In a statement to be released Thursday, the Ottawa-based Royal Architectural Institute of Canada “respectfully requests” that the government reconsider the site chosen for the memorial, on Wellington Street between the Supreme Court of Canada and Library and Archives Canada.
The memorial should be shifted to an “equally prominent and fitting site” 300 metres to the west, the institute suggests: the Garden of the Provinces and Territories.
That site was originally set aside for the memorial by the National Capital Commission. But in 2012, the federal government donated the current site, valued at $1 million, to Tribute to Liberty, a charity formed in 2008 to advocate for a memorial to victims of communism.
The $5.5-million memorial will be built this year after the federal government endorsed a selection jury’s choice of a design by Toronto’s ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture in December. It features six parallel folded concrete rows, rising 14.5 metres at their highest, covered with 100 million “memory squares, ” each representing a life lost to communist regimes worldwide.
The government is contributing $3 million plus the land to the project, with Tribute to Liberty tasked with raising the rest.
The institute’s statement describes the memorial’s planned location as an “immensely significant national site” that should reflect the impartiality and “apolitical aspirations” of Canada’s justice system.
The proposed site, adjacent to the Supreme Court, represents Canada’s democratic values and respect for justice, the institute says. “We believe this land should be reserved for a building whose purpose, quality and dignity are commensurate with its context.”
The institute’s statement points out that the long-term vision and plan for the parliamentary precinct and judicial precinct “does not prescribe a monument on the contested site, but a suitably scaled building.”
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