November 24, 2015
The Honourable Melanie Joly
Minister of Canadian Heritage
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
First let me congratulate you on your recent election victory and appointment as Minister of Canadian Heritage.
I am writing in my capacity as President of the Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods (FUN Ontario), with regard to the proposal to construct a “Memorial to the Victims of Communism” adjacent to the Supreme Court of Canada building in Ottawa.
FUN, founded in 2001, is an Ontario-wide organization of community and neighbourhood associations. We promote awareness of urban issues in Ontario and we encourage citizens to become informed about, and participate in, civic affairs. Since its formation, FUN has been a strong and consistent voice on issues affecting neighbourhoods throughout Ontario.
We wish to add our voice to the groundswell of opinion questioning the plans for the Memorial, including the Globe and Mail (Mar. 29 editorial), the Ontario Association of Architects, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Mayor Jim Watson of Ottawa and a majority of his Council, the present and former MPs for this area Ottawa Citizen (Oct 20).
The proposed location is in a site that is of prime importance to the entire country, and any construction close to the Parliament must be examined very carefully, in an open and transparent process, before approval.
We agree with the Chief Justice’s view that the memorial “could send the wrong message within the judicial precinct, unintentionally conveying a sense of bleakness and brutalism that is inconsistent with a space dedicated to the administration of justice.”
Given your remarks as reported by the CBC on November 12 that you will decide promptly about the location and scale of this monument and in light of information that came out recently (CBC September 27) that an advisory committee within the NCC had raised concerns about the rising cost, scale and siting of the monument back in 2014, we urge you to reject this proposal to build this costly, badly designed, and geographically inappropriate structure.
Whatever your decision, we also hope that the consultative process you’re presently undertaking with various stakeholders will be consistent with the new government’s promise to be more transparent in how such decisions are arrived at than its predecessor.
Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods (Ontario)
c.c. Dr. Mark Kristmanson, Chief Executive Officer National Capital Commission
Mayor Jim Watson