Victoria city councillors are proposing steps to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Remembrance Day just months after a debate on Remembrance Day ceremony costs went nation-wide.
In a motion coming to the committee of the whole on Thursday, Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Coun. Marianne Alto are proposing the installation of commemorative medallions along the Victoria portion of Shelbourne Street, from North Dairy Road to Bay Street.
In 1921, there was an intent to name the street Memorial Avenue, and to plant London Plane trees along the strip to represent every soldier lost in the First World War.
“Of course, so many people died in the war that that couldn’t be done,” Alto said. Over 61,000 Canadians died in the First World War.
In 2018, the District of Saanich decided to install memorial medallions along the street on top of existing street and traffic signs, running from North Dairy Road to Cedar Hill Road, for a total cost of $13,500.
The idea to extend the medallions into Victoria comes shortly after Victoria city council was at the centre of a contentious discussion about funding Remembrance Day costs.
On June 6 council voted to ask the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada to fund policing services for Remembrance Day, which cost around $15,000. The proposition was received especially poorly because the decision was made on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
After a flurry of outrage from residents and veterans from across the country, council retracted this idea and put forward an apology.
This year’s Remembrance Day will mark the 100th year that a commemorative holiday was put in place for soldiers. In 1919, the day was titled “Armistice Day” to commemorate the armistice agreement which ended the First World War on Nov. 11, 1918. The name was changed to Remembrance Day in 1931.
Alto said that leaders from the Canadian Capital Cities Organization, of which she is a member, have been gathering to discuss ideas to celebrate, and that this was an idea put forward in Victoria.
Alto was firm that discussions about the medallions came into play well before the Remembrance Day funding debate began, but that this could open up doors for more communication.
“I’m hoping the lessons that we learned about the other conversation will perhaps make us a bit more considerate and more open to the value of commemorating important historic events,” Alto said.
“I’m hoping the spirit behind this will be recognized by the public and my colleagues that this is an opportunity not just in Victoria but all capitals in the country to reflect on how things were done and what we can learn from that.”
Alto said she was unaware of any other 100th anniversary celebration plans, but that local Legions were likely organizing something.
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