VANCOUVER — A brother of one of the women murdered by Robert Pickton says he's shocked and upset after the City of Vancouver removed plaques honouring three of the killer's victims.
Bronze plaques bearing the names of Georgina Papin, Brenda Wolfe and Marnie Frey were installed in a sidewalk in the city's Downtown Eastside in 2012.
George Papin travels to Vancouver once or twice a month to lay tobacco and say a prayer at his sister's plaque. But about two weeks ago, he discovered it was gone.
"I treasured the memorial as it was a part of me, just like my sister," he said. "And now they take this away."
The memorials were part of an unfinished project called "The Living Stones," which was originally set to lay 62 plaques at the last known locations of missing and murdered women.
The city took over the project in 2013 after the non-profit group that launched it dissolved. Just four plaques had been laid.
A city spokesman said Saturday that staff had been working to "resolve issues" around the project. He said its founders originally indicated it had been endorsed by all the families and the Downtown Eastside community.
"Unfortunately, we later discovered that there was not consensus from the community or from the women's families regarding this project," Jason Watson said in a statement.
"Given the lack of consensus, it was determined in spring 2015 that the few plaques that were installed would be removed and no additional ones would be installed."
He said the city is working to obtain contact details for the families to see if they want the plaques sent to them, adding the non-profit previously refused to provide that information.
Papin, who lives in Pemberton, said city officials had not contacted him. The other women's families could not immediately be reached, but a woman who identified herself as Wolfe's daughter Angel said on Facebook that the city had been in touch and was planning to send families the plaques.
Frey's father Rick was quoted in the Vancouver Sun in 2013 as saying that he didn't want the plaque in the ground with "people walking over it and spitting on" it.
Pickton is serving a life sentence for the second-degree murders of six women. Twenty other charges against him were not proceeded with — including in the death of Cara Ellis.
A Living Stone plaque laid in another location in Vancouver's downtown core that honoured Ellis has not yet been removed.
Sean Faludi, the project's founder, strongly denied the city's allegations. He said he provided permission letters from all but one of the families and had never refused to hand over contact details.
Faludi said he only learned on Saturday that the stones had been removed.
"What astounds me is the callousness of the way these stones have been treated," he said. "It's rather heartbreaking to know that a project that was associated with my name is kind of brushed under the trash can."
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Laura Kane, The Canadian Press