Policy on National Commemorative Monuments on Federal Lands in Canada's Capital Region

Table of Contents

1. Application


This policy applies to commemorative initiatives and monuments located on federal lands in Canada's Capital Region. It focuses on commemorations that are public, tangible, permanent and of national interest. Tangible commemorations are physical markers in the landscape. This includes, but is not limited to, new commemorative works and proposals for the alteration of existing commemorations.


A “commemoration” in its most basic sense is the honouring of the memory of a person, event or idea. “Commemorative monument”, in this policy, refers to both the sculptural element or art work and the associated landscaped site. Public commemorative monuments are those that are both publicly funded and implemented or those that are privately initiated and funded, but are placed in public space.


Commemorative monuments established prior to the existence of this policy that do not comply, in whole or in part, with current criteria or conditions will be considered exempt. However, any proposed changes or alterations to these existing commemorations must comply with this policy.


While this policy was developed for national commemorative initiatives and monuments on federal lands in Canada's Capital Region, its principles could be used to guide other monuments of national significance developed under the responsibility of Canadian Heritage.

2. Context


Canadian Heritage encourages Canadians from across the country to contribute to the building of their nation's capital by sponsoring commemorations of Canadian ideas, people and events that are of national significance. These key symbols help Canadians know and celebrate their history and heritage.


Programming in Canada's Capital Region seeks to reflect the character, identity, symbols, history and values of its people. Commemorative monuments play a key role as they express enduring values, connections to the past and aspirations for the future.


Canadian Heritage is the lead department, facilitating the development of new commemorative initiatives and monuments, working closely with the National Capital Commission (NCC) and other stakeholders such as Public Services and Procurement Canada. Canadian Heritage is involved in all stages of the project to develop a new commemoration, including subject approval, establishment of commemorative intent with the proponent and, in close collaboration with the NCC, the identification of site options and design development. Canadian Heritage also plays a role in guiding the development of any interpretive media and provides advice on unveiling ceremonies.


Under the National Capital Act, the NCC is responsible for approving changes to land use and project designs in Canada's Capital Region. The NCC is also responsible for the preparation of plans and assisting in the development, conservation and improvement of Canada's Capital Region and public lands.


Canadian Heritage and the NCC work closely with Public Services and Procurement Canada for all commemoration projects that involve federal lands for which Public Services and Procurement Canada is responsible. Specifically, the location, theme and design of commemorative monuments within the Parliamentary and Judicial Precincts should align with the long-term plans and vision of Public Services and Procurement Canada. The NCC and Public Services and Procurement Canada are responsible for the ongoing maintenance and life cycle management of monuments on their respective properties.


The cooperation and advice of other federal departments and agencies (including Parks Canada, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Veterans Affairs Canada, Global Affairs Canada and National Defence) may also be sought, depending on the nature of the commemoration. Public and private organizations and the municipalities of Ottawa and Gatineau may also be consulted.


Public consultations vary according to the nature of the commemoration and seek feedback on some or all aspects of the project.

3. Policy Objective


This policy aims to provide a systematic approach for the development of commemorative monuments in Canada's Capital Region, and ensure that such commemorations reflect the rich and diverse history and accomplishments of the people of Canada and Canada's national identity.

4. Policy Requirements


Subjects proposed for commemorative initiatives or monuments on federal lands in Canada's Capital Region must be deemed of national significance by Canadian Heritage. To determine the national significance of a proposed subject, Canadian Heritage may seek the advice of other departments and/or external experts who are considered authorities in Canadian history or other related fields.


Canadian Heritage will consult relevant authorities and stakeholders, as appropriate, to ensure that the proposed commemoration is contextually appropriate with other projects in their respective areas of responsibility.


When a commemoration to a particular subject already exists on federal lands in Canada's Capital Region, a duplicate commemoration will not be considered.

Mandatory evaluation criteria


When evaluating commemorative proposals Canadian Heritage assesses to what extent the initiative aligns with government priorities and whether it would fit within the context of Canada's Capital Region. In addition, the subject is assessed to determine if it is of national significance. The following criteria is considered when assessing national significance:


The subject upholds Canadian values and identity and is relevant to Canadians.


Individuals or groups must have made a contribution to Canada of outstanding and enduring impact, which goes beyond their particular community. Ten years must have passed following the death of an individual or the last surviving member of a group. Commemorations of individuals are linked to the date of birth of the individual.


Ideas, principles, concepts or events must be considered as having an exemplary or positive influence on the lives of Canadians. Events should signify key turning points in the evolution of Canada. At least 25 years must have passed after the occurrence of the event.


Military commemorations should recognize collective efforts, rather than those of individuals. Commemorations to branches of the Canadian Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) are considered as well as commemorations to major military conflicts.

5. Approach

5.1 Site selection and land use review and approval


The site selection process must ensure that the commemorative monument is appropriate for the character, significance and environment of the site. The symbolic and unique importance of the commemoration must be enhanced by virtue of association with the selected site.


Canadian Heritage will work with the NCC and other federal departments to identify appropriate sites based on Canada’s Capital Commemorations Potential Site Inventory managed by the NCC, in consultation with the proponent. The Government of Canada will provide the site if the commemoration is to be located on federal lands. Canadian Heritage will assist the proponent in negotiations with the federal department or agency that is responsible for the land, or other third parties for the use of a preferred site. Different terms and conditions will apply depending on the site that is chosen.


Once a potential commemoration site is identified and is granted Federal Land Use Approval by the NCC, the site will be set aside for a predetermined period of time to allow the proponent to develop the project and carry out fundraising. The site can only be set aside for a maximum of three years after which the Land Use Approval is considered null and void.

5.2 Funding and costs


Proponents are responsible for the funding of their commemorative monument. In most cases, this will require the proponent to engage in fundraising activities. All costs associated with project are the responsibility of the proponent including project management, site investigations, site decontamination, design conception, design development, construction, installation and perpetual care. Perpetual care includes regular inspection, regular maintenance and rehabilitation repairs. It is also the proponent’s responsibility to ensure that the project budget is adhered to during the concept, design and construction phases of the commemoration.


Canadian Heritage and any other federal entity involved in the project must be satisfied that the budget and funding are reasonable and appropriate for the scope of the project. At the project initiation stage, the proponent is required to prepare a letter of intent to outline the commitment to raise funds for the project. The letter will also acknowledge the estimated cost and proposed completion date. Once Canadian Heritage is satisfied that the proponent is able to complete the fundraising, the design stage can begin. A design competition may commence after 80% of the overall budget is in place. Fundraising must be completed before the project moves forward to its implementation phase. A letter acknowledging proof of funding must be provided to Canadian Heritage before fabrication and construction may proceed.


Canadian Heritage reserves the right to apply a 15% project management fee in cases where it determines that the nature and scope of the project will require substantial project management. In addition, to offset the costs of perpetual maintenance and preservation of the commemorative work, the proponent will be asked to contribute to a repair reserve fund managed by the entity responsible for the land. The amount will be equal to a minimum of 10% of the total cost of the monument, including but not limited to the artistic elements and all on-site construction and landscaping, subject to negotiation with the responsible entity.

5.3 Design review and approval


The design approval process seeks to ensure that the planning and design of the commemorative project is advanced in a manner that contributes to the context of Canada’s Capital Region.


Initiation of design development follows the approval of the commemoration subject by Canadian Heritage and the NCC’s approval of the site via Federal Land Use Approval. Unless agreed otherwise, the proponent is responsible for the development of plans, designs, models, site-specific studies, environmental studies and presentation materials necessary to obtain Federal Design Approval. Canadian Heritage and the NCC will provide assistance and advice at all stages of the project, including the development of design criteria, assistance with design competitions, if deemed appropriate, and the selection of an appropriate design.


If the proponent submits a proposal for a new commemorative monument with an existing concept or sculpture, the design development phase focuses on the refinement of the concept/sculpture and its integration into the selected site.


A national design competition would be required in the case of major commemorations, to ensure quality of design and excellence of design in keeping with the significance of Canada’s Capital Region. A design competition also provides unique opportunities for the Canadian artistic community to participate in the development of national commemorations. Canadian Heritage determines, in consultation with the NCC, if a national design competition is required, depending on the scope and scale of the commemoration. The proponent is responsible for seeking the services of experts to manage the design competition and the subsequent detailed design development phase.


The design should be an artistic expression of high quality.


Designs must be presented to the NCC for comment and advice, and refined by proponents in accordance with the comments received. Federal Design Approval authority rests with the NCC’s Board of Directors.

5.4 Proponent and donor recognition


The principal proponent (or proponents) who served as a catalyst for the project, or was instrumental in its realization and implementation, may be recognized by means of a specific plaque at the commemorative site. Proponent recognition plaques require approval by Canadian Heritage and the NCC as part of the overall Federal Design Approval.


In some cases, donor contributions to the commemoration may also be recognized by a plaque at the site. On-site donor recognition is strictly reserved for significant financial contributions. In order to maintain the integrity of the theme or subject commemorated and to not detract from the commemorative experience, any recognition element shall be discreetly located and not placed in the direct sightlines of the monument. During the design phase, parameters guiding plaque size, materials and graphic treatment are established by the NCC in consultation with the proponent and the monument design team. Hierarchy of donor levels may be considered and will be achieved through the graphic treatment of the text (e.g., size of font). Corporate logos or typeface are not permitted.


In the case of Rideau Hall and the Parliamentary and Judicial Precinct, donor recognition is subject to review and approval by the authorities that govern these sites.

5.5 Project implementation


A project can move to the implementation stage once funding for all project costs have been secured and the necessary permits have been obtained by the proponent.


The proponent is responsible for the fabrication, development and construction of the commemoration, as well as conducting and funding site remediation and decontamination if required. Canadian Heritage and the NCC may assist in obtaining these permits. Unless otherwise agreed, the entity responsible for the federal land (NCC or other federal department) monitors the construction to ensure that the development conforms to the approved design and that industry standards are followed.


In the case of major commemorative projects, a professional project manager or firm will be hired by the proponent to oversee all aspects of the implementation phase. The project manager or firm assumes warranty and follow-up for landscaping associated with the commemorative project for up to two years after the commemoration has been implemented.

5.6 Ownership and life cycle management of the commemoration


Once the commemorative monument is completed, the proponent donates the commemoration to a federal entity, who ensures that it is appropriately maintained using the repair reserve fund (refer to 5.2.3). Monuments are regularly inspected and maintenance involves cleaning of the monument, removal of graffiti, lawn care and specific care depending on materials used (e.g. polishing bronze). The federal entity then becomes custodian and accepts responsibility for the ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the commemoration as a federal asset subject to funding of care and maintenance.


In the case of theft, significant damage or major deterioration, the custodian will bring in conservation specialists, as required, to provide a description and cost estimate for the restorative work that is required. The proponent will provide comments to Canadian Heritage and the custodian on whether to repair, replace or remove the commemoration. The proponent may be responsible for costs related to significant restoration or replacement. Where substantial costs are involved, Canadian Heritage, the NCC or another federal entity reserve the right to permanently remove the work.


Because of the changing nature of urban environments, the siting of a commemoration may, in time, no longer be appropriate. Canadian Heritage and the entity responsible for the federal land may determine that the commemoration should be relocated. In such a case, the Government of Canada will seek to place the commemoration on a site of similar scale and visibility. Sponsors will acknowledge the right of the Government of Canada to relocate a commemoration. When the Government of Canada decides that a commemoration should be relocated, it will assume the costs for relocation. Relocations are subject to the Federal Land Use Approval and site selection processes described above.

5.7 Communicating significance


Key requirements for a national commemorative monument in Canada’s Capital Region are that it be accessible to the public and encourage appreciation and understanding of the significance of the subject to our history and heritage. This involves communicating to both those who visit the commemoration and Canadians at large. Interpretation is required in both official languages. As national commemorations are meant to be representative of Canada and because new commemorative works often generate much public interest, Canadian Heritage will encourage public appreciation and understanding of commemorations and will lead communications strategies, interpretation and public programming, in collaboration with proponents.


Proponents are responsible for inaugurating the new commemorative monument. They are encouraged to plan an unveiling ceremony, in collaboration with the department, as it provides opportunities to communicate the significance of the new commemoration. The proponent is responsible for the planning and staging of any unveiling events and associated costs including securing permission for use of the site for the unveiling. Canadian Heritage will provide advice and suggestions.

6. Enquiries

Canadians are welcome to submit their commemorative proposals or ask questions about this policy by contacting Canadian Heritage.

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