It appears the Champlain Monument will not be returning to its familiar spot at Couchiching Beach Park any time soon. Here is a letter from Parks Canada that is on the agenda of city council Thursday night.
Watch for a full story on this later today.
Dear Mayor Clarke and Council:
As the owner and custodian for the Champlain Monument, located in Couchiching Beach Park, Orillia, Parks Canada began a restoration and repair project in 2017 to address problems and deficiencies identified in 2015.
This work includes repairs to the base staircase and plinth, along with conservation work on the bronze statues and embedded plaque. The completion of the staircase and monument base will occur as planned with completion this summer. The restoration project, and the 400th anniversary celebrations held in 2016 have raised the public and media profile of the monument.
Concerns over the monument's representations of Indigenous peoples have been raised by members of the public and by Indigenous communities to Parks Canada and the City of Orillia over this time period.
Parks Canada, alongside the City of Orillia, has been involved with a stakeholder working group to discuss the reinstallation of the Champlain Monument and additional interpretation opportunities to develop a balanced and representative reflection of history of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.
At this juncture, Parks Canada will place the Champlain Monument project on hold and will not be proceeding with the reinstallation of the monument itself until further consultation can occur regarding an appropriate path forward.
To this end, Parks Canada is requesting that the City of Orillia establish a joint committee, consisting of members from both of our organizations and other key partners and stakeholders, to pursue consultations and to develop a plan for both the Champlain Monument and the surrounding park lands, including possible education or art installations, for the Summer of 2019. With your endorsement, the committee's role and terms of reference will be created jointly and will provide recommendations for both the Council of the City of Orillia and Parks Canada.
Building respectful, strong relationships with stakeholders and Indigenous peoples continues to be a priority for Parks Canada, and I am certain that through the leadership of both of our organizations a positive outcome can be realized.
Jewel Cunningham Director, Ontario Waterways Field Unit Parks Canada Agency