03/12/2014 04:47 EDT | Updated 03/12/2014 04:59 EDT

Never Forgotten War Memorial Sparks Battle In Cape Breton (PHOTOS)


Maritimers are doing battle over a Canadian war memorial that's planned for Green Cove, a site along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

The Never Forgotten National Memorial is at the centre of an angry debate among Cape Bretoners and others as a number of residents object to its park location.

The memorial is a project to mark Canada's 150th birthday, and to commemorate the 114,000 Canadian soldiers who have died fighting in foreign countries.

To be called "Remembrance Point," its most striking feature is a "Mother Canada" statue, which could be as tall as ten storeys high, that depicts a woman extending her hands towards Europe.

The statue is to be modeled after "Canada Bereft," a similar monument at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, which shows a woman looking down in a mournful gaze, The Toronto Star reports.

Check out photos of the planned Never Forgotten National Memorial:

Photo gallery Never Forgotten National Memorial in Cape Breton See Gallery

Toronto businessman Tony Trigiani is leading the project through the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation, with a targeted opening date of July 1, 2017, the day that Canada turns 150 years old.

But the monument's location is also tearing the nearby community apart, The Globe and Mail reports.

More than 300 people packed a public meeting at the fire hall in nearby Ingonish, N.S. that saw "jeers and cheers" over the project two weeks ago. Letters are pouring into Cape Breton newspaper The Victoria Standard, stirring more debate than any topic in the past 22 years.

"The thing is with this war memorial – it’s starting a war," Ingonish-area resident Aaron Schneider told the Globe.

Some, like South Harbour, N.S.'s Claudie Gahlinger, worry that the land will be "destroyed ... covered over and cemented," the Chronicle Herald reports.

Meanwhile, Gerry Briand, a Maritimer who now lives in Whitby, Ont., worries in a letter to the Cape Breton Post that the area's high waves could pose a danger to visitors.

The project also has strong support among some area residents like Jason LeBlanc, an Ingonish business owner who says Green Cove is a "serene and beautiful spot" for the memorial, according to the Herald.

"Never Forgotten" is not the only monument commemorating Canada's 150th birthday that has encountered opposition from residents who live near where it will be built.

Kitchener, Ont. is currently battling over a plan to put bronze statues of all 22 prime ministers in a public park.

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