Veterans approve of Vimy Ridge Park redesign concept
LONDON, ONT. -- Traditionally, Londoners would have packed memorial parks in the city this weekend to pay tribute to Canadian soldiers lost at Vimy Ridge in 1917.
However, due to COVID-19, the parks were empty.
"This week was the 103rd anniversary of battle of Vimy Ridge, so I talked with staff and agreed that it was good day to share the concept plan for London's Vimy Ridge Park," says Shawn Lewis, London's ward 2 councillor.
Lewis shared the designs on his Facebook page, and told CTV News how all of the pieces currently in place by the community will remain, but will be enhanced.
"We are going to have a curb cut and small parking lot for the veterans who join us during the ceremonies," says Lewis.
"There will be a pathway from the parking lot, with a mid-point where people can stop to see a few features about London's involvement with Vimy."
He also added that city staff paid extra attention to details when laying the pathway.
"It aligns east-west toward Vimy Ridge in France which is a neat design feature," Lewis added.
The city of London had planned to host a public meeting this week to get community input and answer questions about the concept plan.
Due to government regulations from COVID-19, that won't happen, but Lewis says there will be a public meeting in the future
Even though the public hasn't had input yet, local veterans from the Royal Canadian Legion, the First Hussars and the active branch of Canadian Forces have had their say.
They got a firsthand look during a meeting at Western Fair District in February.
"The meeting was well attended and I was delighted to see there was a consensus in the room," says Randy Warden, chief executive officer for Royal Canadian Legion, Ontario command zone A6.
"The feedback was extraordinary and as the city's plans were unveiled, there was ideas that came forth from the audience"
The veterans are not only interested in what the park looks like, but also what it represents to the community as a whole."
Lewis says consultation with the veterans has been wonderful.
"Those ideas have been brought together in a way that thematically makes sense for this space, and I think everybody is going to be happy at the end of the day."
The memorial park is meant to be a contemplative place for people to pause on a walk, or read on the benches, but the city also plans on hosting a couple of ceremonies there each year.