• Stop Fighting Vimy Park MP Urges

    From the London Free Press, Feb 27th. Full Article Here: http://www.lfpress.com/2017/02/27/bureaucracy-suggestions-of-politicking-threaten-timely-tribute

    A London MP is entering a city council conflict in which a mix of patriotism and military history has collided with bureaucratic rules and accusations of politicking.

    With competing proposals to name a park in honour of the Battle of Vimy Ridge — and neither likely to be formalized by its 100th anniversary in April — MP Peter Fragiskatos is urging council to quickly approve a community-led option he believes best honours Canadian veterans…

    …the east-end community group that built a memorial, complete with benches, flags and a military sculpture, on a piece of unused city-owned greenspace adjacent to the combat-inspired Charley Fox memorial overpass and roundabout.

    They did so without the approval of, or funding from city hall, and now are asking council to formally designate it a park.

    On the other side is Coun. Bill Armstrong, who believes an existing park, Mildred Barons Park, would be a more appropriate spot to re-name in honour of Vimy.

    In the background, a time crunch: the anniversary is only six weeks away and city staff, directed by politicians last week to study options for honouring Vimy, say there’s no way they can meet that deadline.

    There also are indications of political tension, with Armstrong and the community group, which includes his old political rival Bud Polhill, clashing in a recent ­debate.

    Armstrong said he would never start a park project, formal or otherwise, without widespread public consultation.

    He questioned the existing memorial’s safety and said declaring it a formal park would be “a huge mistake.”

    Shawn Lewis, a member of the community group that built the memorial and wants the park designation, offered a sharp ­criticism.

    “It seemed like councillors were more interested in (getting) their own names credited for doing something instead of supporting what the community has already done,” he told The Free Press.

    Additional local media coverage from Global News and AM980 Radio can be found here: http://globalnews.ca/news/3282960/vimy-park-debate-returns-to-london-city-hall-thursday/
    NOTE, the community led Vimy Ridge Park has also received the support of London MP Irene Mathyssen (the park is located in her riding), who also serves as the NDP’s Veterans Affairs Critic in Parliament, as well as support from the Royal Canadian Legion’s District Command and the Vimy Foundation of Canada.

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