Council denies request for service dog statue at Kimberley, B.C.'s Veterans Memorial Park

Pictured are the gates to Kimberley, B.C.'s Veterans Memorial Park, where the community's cenotaph is located.  (Corey Bullock/CBC - image credit)
Pictured are the gates to Kimberley, B.C.'s Veterans Memorial Park, where the community's cenotaph is located. (Corey Bullock/CBC - image credit)

A group that supports veterans in Kimberley, B.C., is hoping city council will reconsider its rejection of a monument to service dogs in Veterans Memorial Park where the community's cenotaph is located.

Cindy Postnikoff, a volunteer and advocate with Military Ames, says the organization has enough donations to cover the cost of the monument and a petition with 3,000 signatures shows it has community support.

"We want to put a statue of a dog in the park. What can that hurt?" she said.

Military Ames are stewards of the park and helped spearhead its build and design several years ago.

WATCH | Council denies service dog statue request

Kimberley's mayor and some councillors feel the park is not an appropriate location for a dog statue. But advocates say service dogs play an important role in helping veterans and first responders deal with post-traumatic stress and a memorial would honour that.

"One of the reasons that service dogs are so relevant is they're 24-hour support," said Kyle Dalum, a veteran and member of Military Ames. "When we come home, we're still fighting those wars. We can't just turn that off. So these dogs serve those wars with us, at home."

Dalum is a former Kimberley city councillor. The statue is modelled after his late service dog, Phelan.

He says the tribute to service dogs is a way to modernize the cenotaph and support young veterans.

"Veterans like myself are currently using service dogs to function better, be safer — not only to ourselves but to others," Dalum said.

Veterans Memorial Park is located on city land. The proposal for the service dog monument first came before council in September 2021.

At the time, council members voted against it for a number of reasons, including that the statue's design featured a columbarium — a structure for urns typically found in cemeteries — for service dog ashes. It has since been removed from the design.

In a recent report to council, staff recommended the city vote to approve the monument.

A visibly upset group of Military Ames members stormed out of council chambers on Jan. 9 after the proposal was rejected.

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick says the cenotaph is a memorial specifically to those who lost their lives in conflict.

"We fully support and understand the more modern-day issues with PTSD and the role that service dogs play, and we completely support that, just not in that location," McCormick said.

He says he hopes Military Ames and the city can work to find another location for the monument —  such as the Platzl, a pedestrian-only area in downtown Kimberley.

Coun. Jason McBain agreed.

"I am for the message. It's the location," McBain said.

"If they bring another location to the floor, they have my support. Unequivocally."