New Central Saanich cenotaph being pushed to new year

The structure is an obelisk with a more contemporary feel with maple leafs on a coiled stainless steel branch.

A proposed veterans memorial cenotaph for Central Saanich. Council will be discussing the future of the project in the new year.

The proposed design for the new memorial cenotaph will be discussed further in the new year, allowing the community to have a chance to weigh in on the design.

Council heard from Landscape Architect Illarion Gallant of Rusnak Gallant Ltd. who presented the design for the new cenotaph on Dec. 21.

“My working title for this has been Love Honour and Valour and the first form that I came up with was the obelisk,” he said.

The structure is an obelisk with a more contemporary feel with maple leafs on a coiled stainless steel branch.

“They’re broken because its reflective of the fact that in war we are vulnerable, as a nation we get broken, but the vines really represent the sense of the strength of our country, the strength of our country surrounding the strength of the obelisk.”

Made of concrete and standing 24 feet tall, Gallant is proposing various niches, reflecting various wars. Features include stonework and a time capsule niche.

Council, overall, indicated they liked the proposed design and  its location — in Centennial Park with trees surrounding it.

Coun. Zeb King said he thinks it’s important to make sure it reflects the entire community and wondered if it could incorporate the local First Nations of Tsartlip and Tsawout.

Among those in the gallery were members of the Masonic Lodge who donated $10,000 to the cenotaph, along with residents Norma Seeley and Ed Widenmaier who helped get the project going.

Widenmaier said he likes the height and the upside down leafs, representing the fallen. His one concern was under peacekeeping.

“Peacekeeping is recognized by one colour, blue. A bronze helmet or a bronze pair of boots on one side, that’s fine but when you mention peacekeeping in your design, I believe that helmet should be blue …”

Seeley said she thinks the project has been rushed, adding there is time to do it properly.

She said she initially suggested a simple fieldstone monument as she felt it fit in with the local character.

That, she said, has historically been agriculture.

“My whole thrust was simplicity. Not just for the cost but because of the meaning and feeling for a cenotaph.”

She also had concern with the location, saying the cenotaph would be hidden. The proposed cenotaph is also too tall, she said.

“We are a simple people in this municipality, most of us I don’t think have pretentions [sic] to grandeur and I find this quite pretentious.”

The comments then went back to council to make a decision to which many said they just need more consultation with community.

”I think its fairly evident that something so touching and important to the community, we need to be fairly certain that we’ve done enough consultation…” said King.

Coun. Bob Thompson said this is a community symbol and is also concerned they haven’t taken it to the community in seeking that approval.

Coun. Carl Jensen said he had wanted to move the plan forward to meet a funding deadline. He said he now believes council is rushing for the sake of the funding.

“I think from my perspective I would be willing to take a chance that we may miss out on funding that we don’t even know if we’re going to get so that we can perhaps take some more time to really come forward with something that maybe all of us around the table can get behind because at this point it doesn’t feel like we’re there yet…”

Mayor Ryan Windsor was the only one against a motion made by Jensen to move the design to the Jan. 18 Committee of the Whole meeting.

He said the structure is unique and likes to think that Central Saanich is unique, adding that sometimes people have to accept things that surprise them.

“What gets me the most is that we are a local government and certainly analysis is important as we deliberate on process, but I think what this particular project represents is a group of people who did not think, they did not sit back and analyze whether or not they should go to war, they went, because they felt it was the right thing to do.”

Windsor added the First World War is only a few years away from the 100th anniversary of its end.

“One hundred years ago the people of Central Saanich responded to the call to fight in the First World War … and we’re still deliberating on a cenotaph.”

With further discussion taking place in the new year, the materials of the cenotaph design will be placed in the lobby of Central Saanich for residents to view, allowing for them to give their input.

“I think it’s  an opportunity to give a little bit more time for some thought, a little bit more input and I think that gives us a chance to promote it,” said Jensen.