Council to debate funding D-Day markers honouring Toronto soldiers
A group of German prisoners, captured by Canadian troops sit on Juno Beach in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. (Frank L. Dubervill / National Archives of Canada)
Published Tuesday, June 10, 2014 4:50PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 10, 2014 9:43PM EDT
City council is expected to vote on a motion Wednesday that recommends paying for 22 tribute markers that will honour some of the city's residents who died on D-Day during the Second World War.
The motion, which was put forward by Coun. Paul Ainslie, suggests the city sponsor the remaining markers that have not yet been paid for, at a total cost of $11,000. Each marker will cost $500.
"Twenty-two markers representing fallen soldiers from Toronto have not yet been sponsored, and I am requesting that the City of Toronto sponsor these heroes… to ensure that all are honoured," the motion reads.
Last Friday marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when thousands of Canadian soldiers took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy, France. It was an event that changed the course of history.
More than 120 soldiers from Ontario lost their lives on the morning of June 6, 1944. Of those soldiers, 50 called Toronto home.
To honour the soldiers, the Juno Beach Centre Association is planning to install tribute markers on the grounds of Juno Beach Centre in Normandy. The one-metre markers will be made of Canadian maple and will be topped with a plaque with the soldier’s name, regiment and hometown. They will also have a Quick Response code that will link visitors to a biography page about the soldiers.
Many Canadian cities have already announced they will be funding the markers. Toronto, however, has yet to step up.
Last month, the Juno Beach Centre Association said they were still searching for funding for the planned memorial after the city opted not to pay for the markers. According to the organization, they had sent Mayor Rob Ford a letter about the markers in March asking for "support in spreading the word about this important memorial initiative."
The group said after Ford announced he was taking a leave of absence, they followed-up by sending letters to every member of city council.
"We did get some response from a couple of councillors, but in the end, really, there wasn’t any action," Jenna Misener, executive manager of the group, told CTV Toronto last month.
Despite the lack of municipal funding, however, the importance of the project did not fallen on deaf ears. A number of individuals have stepped up to pay for some of the 50 D-Day memorial markers that will honour soldiers from Toronto.
According to Ainslie’s motion, 22 remain unfunded. If his motion is passed, it will be referred to the city’s economic development committee.
A number of other Canadian cities have already chosen to sponsor the tribute markers for their fallen soldiers, including Markham, Barrie and Calgary.