Feds to shell out $4M more on Victims of Communism memorial

·3 min read
The Memorial to the Victims of Communism, located in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories on Wellington Street in Ottawa, was supposed to be finished in 2018. It remained under construction in April 2021, and the original budget of $3.5 million has more than doubled. (Kimberley Molina/CBC - image credit)
The Memorial to the Victims of Communism, located in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories on Wellington Street in Ottawa, was supposed to be finished in 2018. It remained under construction in April 2021, and the original budget of $3.5 million has more than doubled. (Kimberley Molina/CBC - image credit)

The price tag for the Memorial to the Victims of Communism in Ottawa has more than doubled, leading the federal government to shell out an additional $4 million this year, according to Monday's federal budget.

The public installation in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories on Wellington Street once had a final budget of about $3.5 million, with the federal government paying $2 million and Tribute to Liberty, the private group spearheading the project, contributing the other $1.5 million.

The memorial was originally to be built next to the Supreme Court of Canada, but the location and scale of the project were changed after widespread criticism. The final design was approved in 2017, and the monument was supposed to be finished the following year.

It's not only late, but now wildly over budget. Finance department experts, speaking on background during the budget lockup, told CBC that higher construction pricing, coupled with a requirement that the park remain open to pedestrians, led to the additional $4 million in costs.

The winning design for the Memorial to the Victims of Communism was created by Toronto architect and artist Paul Raff. Its scale was drastically reduced from the original, which was supposed to be located near the Supreme Court of Canada before being moved across Wellington Street amid controversy.
The winning design for the Memorial to the Victims of Communism was created by Toronto architect and artist Paul Raff. Its scale was drastically reduced from the original, which was supposed to be located near the Supreme Court of Canada before being moved across Wellington Street amid controversy.(Supplied)

More money for NCC, protection for historic sites

Monday's budget contained a number of interesting tidbits for the National Capital Region, which the document referred to as "home to some of the most significant cultural and heritage assets in Canada."

To that end, the federal government is proposing $35 million in new money over the next five years for the National Capital Commission (NCC) to both acquire and maintain its physical assets, green infrastructure and outdoor spaces in the region.

As the budget notes, although there are 300 federally owned historic sites in Canada, there is "no legal obligation to protect the heritage value" of them. That's why the government is earmarking $29 million to develop and implement new legislation to do just that.

With a timeline of five years, there will be lots of time for the sort of consultation Ottawa is known for.

Bridges and loops

Remember the surprise mention of an additional interprovincial bridge between Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., in the last federal budget? Although greeted with little enthusiasm by governments on either side of the border, the idea is still on the table.

According to the budget, "a dedicated project office responsible for addressing the need for an additional NCR crossing will be established at Public Services and Procurement Canada, jointly with the National Capital Commission."

There was no specific mention in the budget of turning the Prince of Wales Bridge into a pedestrian crossing, but the document did mention working with the NCC to study how an electric tramway system connecting Gatineau and Ottawa might work.

Last fall, Ottawa's city council approved Gatineau's plan to connect its future light rail system to the Confederation Line through a tunnel under Sparks Street.

Many people, including the NCC's CEO Tobi Nussbaum, are more interested in running the tramway in front of Parliament Hill on Wellington Street, a concept known colloquially as "The Loop."