The controversy continues in Victoria over the removal of a statue of Canada’s first prime minister.
It cost the city $30,000 last summer to take down the tribute to Sir John A. Macdonald that stood outside the entrance to City Hall, and now an additional $10,000 has been earmarked to figure out a way to either donate or relocate it.
“I think it really signals to the public that we are serious about doing something with the statue in this year,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
“We put a small budget allocation next to the action item so that would be some money once the decision is made.”
But it seems to be creating even more controversy.
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“There are many other things that $10,000 could be used for,” said Victoria resident Tanya Anderson.
“It just seems kind of shameful, kind of wasteful actually as well,” added Tony Federici.
Making matters worse, there’s concern $10,000 may not be enough to cover it.
“Realistically, it may cost a little bit more than that,” said Coun. Geoff Young.
“It’s a big, heavy statue, and there will be some public process, so I think the amount may be a little thin.”
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It will all depend on what the final decision is. This time, the public will have a say.
When the statue was initially removed back in August, it was done under the direction of what’s known as the “City Family,” a group of First Nations representatives and city officials.
Given Macdonald’s involvement in the creation of the residential school system, the statue’s removal was meant to be a step towards reconciliation. However, the lack of public consultation only resulted in public outcry.
During the Feb. 12 meeting, Coun. Ben Isitt suggested the statue be donated to the province, but Young fired back saying any ideas need to be shelved until the public weighs in.
“The idea of getting public input is you get the public input and then you make the decision. It’s not you make the decision and you get the public input to support it. We don’t know what is going to happen with this.”
The Province responded on Wednesday.
WATCH: City of Victoria removes John A. Macdonald statue
“I know the mayor, I know the members of council and we’ll have a conversation and take it from there and wait for them to deliberate,” said NDP MLA Rob Fleming.
Wherever the statue ends up, Helps said lessons have been learned.
“Unsettling colonization is unsettling. It is very challenging to grapple with the fact that the City of Victoria is built on someone else’s homeland.”
It’s expected to take another year to complete the public consultation process and come to a final decision.