A round concrete memorial planter at Rotary Park will be removed and the space returned to a grass space, following a recommendation from city staff and a vote from city council.
The issue came up as a late agenda item on Monday evening’s city council meeting, as the city’s top administration official noted that internal discussions have been ongoing for the last few years.
Mark Fercho, the Chief Administrative Officer, told council that the structure, which was built in 2012 to acknowledge and celebrate prominent Cranbrook citizens, has only two plaques installed over the last nine years. Removing the structure also returns that area of the park to a grass space, which would create “less clutter in the park.”
Councillor Ron Popoff agreed, noting increased use at the park for large events such Sam Steele Days, the Cranbrook Multicultural Festival and Summer Sounds, where bands performed at the Rotary Park bandstand on Saturday evenings and attracted large crowds.
“This piece is crucial in it’s removal to allow that further space to allow us to continue to have more downtown vibrancy,” said Popoff.
Both Councillors Norma Blissett and Mike Peabody agreed, the latter referring to the structure as a “concrete bunker.”
“If it’s a day and a half to remove it and we can make that park look a little bit better to the public, I say go for it,” said Peabody.
Mayor Lee Pratt and Councillor John Hudak voted against the structure’s removal.
The fact there have only been two plaques installed in nine years is the fault of councils and staff, argued Mayor Pratt.
“We’ve dropped the ball on that. As far as removing it, it’s going to cost money. I see people using it, sitting there and that. I think if we plant the flowers it can look good,” said Mayor Pratt.
“For me, it just doesn’t make sense to spend the money to take it out when we could use that money repairing sidewalks in town, or something else that could use some attention rather than using the equipment and everything to go in there and destroy it.”
As far as the structure’s original intent to recognize prominent citizens, that element will be rolled into a banner program, a similar initiative that is currently under review as staff are looking at identifying ways to celebrate community leaders and personalities.
The two plaques honoured three individuals; Soren Johnson was recognized for his work in creating the urban forest in Cranbrook’s downtown core, while William J Uren and George T Moir for their generosity in ensuring the Moir Gravel Pit Lands would be made available for future recreational use by Cranbrook citizens.
Following Monday evening’s vote to remove the structure, Public Works staff were on site Tuesday morning to get that process underway.