Parks Canada has rejected the proposed, so-called Mother Canada Memorial.
Blair Pardy, the field unit superintendent from Cape Breton, wrote the Friends of Green Cove on Friday, saying that after careful consideration Parks Canada has decided to withdraw from the project.
"As a result, the project will not be moving forward on Parks Canada land." the message reads.
Pardy’s message to the Friends of Green Cove mirrored the statement that Daniel Watson, chief executive officer of Parks Canada, sent out at the same time on Friday.
“It’s a sweet victory not just for our group and all those who know and love Green Cove,” said Sean Howard, spokesperson for the Friends of Green Cove.
“I think it’s a victory for the national parks system, the country. Hopefully it marks the end of an era of neglect, privatization and commercialization and we can turn the corner now and restore integrity and credibility to the whole system.”
Tony Trigiani, chairman of the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation, could not be reached for comment.
Meg Stokes, spokesperson for the foundation, said that they had worked for four years with Parks Canada to create the memorial at Green Cove.
The foundation had carried out a detailed impact analysis that "confidentally concluded" the project would not result in an adverse environmental impact at Green Cove, and had consulted closely with Nova Scotia's First Nations as well as thousands of supporters country-wide, according to Stokes.
"We are heartbroken that our project has fallen victim to politics and deeply saddened that so many people in Cape Breton, especially those North of Smokey [Mountain], that have given countless hours of their time and hearts to this memorial, were treated in this shocking manner by Parks Canada," Stokes said.
"This is disappointing to veterans across the country and the current members of the Canadian forces who support this project."
Stokes said the foundation hopes to still find a place to honour the Canada "war dead."
Mark Eyking, the Liberal M.P. for the riding of Sydney-Victoria in Cape Breton, said he’d always supported the idea of the project as long as it met all the criteria and the private funding necessary for the memorial was in place.
“I commend Mr. Trigiani and The Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation for their dedication and hard work in trying to make such a large investment in our region,” Eyking said.
“I hope going forward that they will consider another location in Cape Breton to commemorate the many Canadian men and women that lost their lives overseas.”
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society praised the decision, saying the rejection of the memorial is an important step in putting in place the Liberal government’s election commitment to limit development in Canada’s national parks.
“After more than two years of public uproar about this ill-conceived project, there is no doubt our government made the right choice by saying no to Mother Canada. This is a good day for our parks,” said Eric Herbert-Daly, the executive director of CPAWS.
While Parks Canada has said no to the memorial, it does not preclude the foundation from trying to find a different spot for the memorial.
The rejection of the memorial came just days after the National Observer broke the story of how the Mother Canada statue grew from a roughly three-metre statue into a giant monument proposed to be nearly 30 metres tall.
The full text of Pardy's message is below.
MESSAGE FROM A. Blair Pardy, Field Unit Superintendent, Cape Breton, Friday February 5:
As you are aware, in August 2013, the vision for the Never Forgotten National Memorial proposed to be built at Green Cove in Cape Breton Highlands National Park was announced. Parks Canada has been working with the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation towards the realization of this Memorial.
At this time, Parks Canada has completed a review of the entire Never Forgotten National Memorial initiative as well as the key elements and timelines within the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that guides this complex proposal. Based on that review, Parks Canada has concluded that there are too many key elements that remain outstanding for the project to be achieved by the planned date of July 1, 2017, including the availability of funds to the Foundation, agreement on the structuring of the funding for construction and maintenance, and a definitive final design plan.
I wanted to let you know that after careful consideration, Parks Canada has decided to withdraw from the MOU and the project. Parks Canada will no longer be working towards the realization of the memorial in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. As a result, the project will not be moving forward on Parks Canada land.
Parks Canada appreciates the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation’s vision in honouring Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and wishes the Foundation success in its on-going pursuits.