Peace groups who got a sneak peek at design plans for the Peace Garden in Nathan Phillips Square say they've been misled by the city.
"They're getting rid of it like a piece of garbage," says Anton Wagner of the Hiroshima Day Coalition.
Wagner was among several peaceniks who met with Sheila Glazer, head of the city's facilities and real estate division, last Friday (to go over plans for the garden, which is being relocated as part of the square's $40-million redesign.
The groups, Science for Peace and Veterans Against Nuclear Arms among them, say they'd received Glazer's assurance that the garden would be moved intact if it needed to be relocated. Instead, it's being replaced by an entirely new one.
Says Glazer. "It's not something new they didn't know about."
While the redesign by Plant Architect and Shore Tilbe Irwin still accommodates a Peace Garden, it's unclear if any of the elements from the original garden will be saved once it has been moved to its new site on the square's far west side.
"It's not practical to jack it up and move it," says Peter Ortved, professional adviser for the Revitalization Design Competition, although some accommodation may be made for the water and eternal flame from the current garden.
Not good enough, says Wagner. "We see this as a place that activates people. They want it to be a place where a couple of people go to contemplate quietly."
The site has hosted countless vigils. Plant's plan goes to city council's Government Management Committee for approval June 12.
Says Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor who took part in commemorations at the garden's original opening in 1984, "We need public visibility and politicians actively promoting peace-building. This new design won't inspire anyone for peace."