An ArmchairMayorca. editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
EVERY TIME I drive or walk past City Hall I get mad.
Not mad at what’s going on inside; mad at what’s going on outside.
The Overlanders statue at the corner of Victoria Street and First Avenue is an embarrassment. It looks like a neglected remnant of some rundown neighbourhood, and that, in turn, makes the whole corner look the same.
The reason for this unhappy situation is that most of the bronze plaques that told the story of the statue, and of the Overlanders, and of the many sponsors who made donations to make it possible, are gone. The plinth upon which the statue stands is now a battered-looking piece of concrete.
Last spring, some contemptible hoodlums— who remain at large — totally lacking in moral compass, ripped off about two dozen plaques from memorial benches and public art in Riverside Park and elsewhere in the city, including the Overlanders statue.
That crime spree of almost a year ago wasn’t the first time plaques have been stolen. Some of the public art pieces in Riverside Park, legacies from an international sculpture symposium in 2002, have been without their plaques for years.
Why hasn’t anything been done about it?
Jeff Putnam, the City’s facilities manager, says a search is on for a new material to make the plaques out of.
What’s needed is an attractive, durable and much less tempting material. Replacing the plaques in bronze would cost taxpayers around $40,000; Putnam is hopeful the new material will cost half that, and that the work can be done over the summer.
The good news is that records for the wording of all the plaques has been found, so they can be recreated as they were.
Things have come to a sad state when people would commit such thievery against the very community that supports them, but let’s get on with the repair job.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear twice daily Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.