06/22/2015 08:42 EDT | Updated 06/22/2016 05:59 EDT

Mother Canada project would 'enhance' national park: supporters

The Toronto businessman behind the proposed Mother Canada monument in Cape Breton says if there's too much opposition, it won't be built.

Tony Trigiani made the comments Sunday during CBC Radio's Maritime Connection phone in program.

Trigiani says his idea to build a 10-storey high Mother Canada must pass Parks Canada's detailed impact assessment — as well as a Mi'kmaq ecological knowledge study.

He insists it's not a done deal.

"I cannot force it. If the opposition is so strong it will stop," says Trigiani.

The monument has many supporters, including former Nova Scotia Premier Russell MacLellan, who phoned in to the program from Ingonish.

"I live very close to the park. It's beautiful. But this is not going to detract. The very reason for it being there is going to enhance this park," he says.

Noreen MacDonald-Pilsworth, of Sydney, told Maritime Connection listeners she is "100 per cent for this memorial to our veterans."

"I'm a proud daughter of a veteran, Norman D. MacDonald, and his three brothers went off to fight in World War II and my uncle Charlie John, was killed in action the day after D-Day," she says.

'Welcoming home the 114,000 that didn't return'

MacDonald-Pilsworth says her uncle is buried in Bény-sur-Mer in France. She said she'll likely never have the chance to visit her uncle's grave in northern France.  

"[But] I would go to this beautiful statue of Mother Canada, with her arms outstretched across the water and to think of him," says MacDonald-Pilsworth.

Her uncle, John D. MacDonald, fought in the war and was a park warden in the Highlands National Park in Ingonish, Cape Breton. 

"He always told his children, that as they drove by Green Cove, he would say: 'Look directly across the water, and always remember that your uncle Charlie, who gave the ultimate sacrifice is buried directly across these waters,'" she says.

"A Mother Canada memorial, with her arms outstretched, facing France and the Vimy memorial there, will be welcoming home the 114,000 that didn't return."  

Nikita Loubokhene is one of 28 former Parks Canada officials who've take a public stance against it.

"The national parks has a very clear mandate in its National Parks Act, which is the first and primary responsibility for the minister in any decision is to consider ecological integrity and this proposal goes completely contrary to that," he says.

Ruth Brewer, lives in the Cavendish National Park in P.E.I. She says it's all about money.
"We're discovering now that the national park can be bought," says Brewer.
Depending on how the debate plays out in the months to come, construction could begin later this year.