Memorial opponents encouraged by support
A coalition aimed at stopping the National Capital Commission erecting the Memorial to Victims of Communism at a controversial downtown site says public support for their Federal Court case has “exceeded” their expectations.
Ottawa architect Barry Padolsky is leading the group opposed to the location of the memorial. Padolsky made a public appeal on the eve of Canada Day, asking for donations to help pay the group’s legal fees.
He said offers have been flooding in over the past 36 hours and that the group will be able to report a funding amount by next week.
“I’m encouraged ... by people’s willingness to make a contribution to help support our legal challenge to stop the construction of the memorial,” Padolsky said Thursday. “At the same time, I’m actually overwhelmed by the fact that so many people seem to be upset by arbitrary measures of the government to offer this site, which was committed for the federal court building.”
In their appeal, the group was careful to point out that it is not opposed to the memorial itself, just its location on Wellington Street near the Supreme Court.
“We feel that our government has done an end run around the quite wonderful master plan for the parliamentary and judicial precincts,” Padolsky said. “And we think they shouldn’t be allowed to do that.”
The site was originally intended to house a new Federal Court of Canada building, which was to be one of three judicial buildings mirroring Parliament’s three buildings.
“The Government’s approved Long Term Vision and Plan includes the vision of completing a harmonious “triad” within the judicial precinct by erecting a new Federal Court building on the site — not a Memorial to the Victims of Communism,” the appeal for support says.
The group is asking that donations be made through PayPal, cheque or electronic bank transfer directly to Champ and Associates, the Ottawa law firm representing the group.
“It’s going into trust,” Paul Champ, owner and senior partner of the firm, said in an interview. “It will be paying whatever fees are required. The excess will be donated.”
Champ says because there won’t be a trial it shouldn’t be too expensive.
“We’ve written to the government and asked that they don’t break ground this summer,” he said. “We have received a response from the department of justice and they’ve indicated to us that they will not breaking ground for at least the next two weeks.”
Champ says that if after two weeks the department of public works does plan to go ahead, he’ll be told, and they will go to court to file an injunction to stop them from breaking ground.
The goal is that no work is done until their case has been heard, which Champ says could be as late as the start of the new year.
Champ says that the NCC has failed to consult the public and doesn’t have all the approvals required to begin preparing the site.
“When you are making a decision about some of the most symbolic land in Canada, frankly, the government has a duty to ensure the public has been adequately consulted,” he said.