Toronto council approves relocation of peace garden

  • June 29, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO - The controversial plan to relocate the Peace Garden at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square was approved in a 22-10 vote by city councillors June 22.
The plan to move the garden from its current location at the centre of the square to a new location on the west side outside city hall’s front doors has upset peace groups who feel that moving the monument is nothing short of desecration.

The garden was blessed by Pope John Paul II and inaugurated by former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth II in 1984. It contains an eternal flame, lit from the embers of Hiroshima, and a vial of water brought from the city of Nagasaki, the two Japanese cities that felt the wrath of atomic weaponry at the close of the Second World War. Redesign plans include moving these elements, along with a sundial and a pavilion in the garden, to the new location.

{sidebar id=1} Several city councillors expressed concern that, in its current location, the Peace Garden is desecrated regularly as people throw trash into and walk over and around the garden during public events. Peace groups, however, feel that the integrity of the garden will be lost if it is moved and redesigned.

Fr. Massey Lombardi told The Catholic Register in early June that “The Peace Garden they’re proposing is not the Peace Garden” that he was the driving force behind when it was built two decades ago.

“It doesn’t have the same significance.”

A contract has been awarded to Plant Architects, who will be responsible for the $40-million rejuvenation project planned for Nathan Phillips Square, including the relocation of the Peace Garden. In an interview with The Catholic Register in early June, Mayor David Miller promised that the new garden would be twice its original size and much more peaceful than its current locale. However, peace groups argue that the garden is meant to be visible, inspire action to end war and not simply sit tucked away as a place of quiet contemplation.

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