Wilmot Council votes to remove Prime Ministers Path in Baden

 A path that's been lined with controversy at almost every turn is coming to an end.

Wilmot Township council voted unanimously on Monday night to remove the remaining Prime Ministers Path statues in Baden and stop the project permanently.

This project came under sharp scrutiny following the vandalism and then removal of the Sir John A Macdonald statue last year after protests over his ties to the residential school system.

Council deciding that the divisive nature and hurt the statues cause the Indigenous community is not worth it.

Last week the First Peoples Group, an indigenous advisory firm out of Ottawa, were brought in to hold public consultations and draft a report with recommendations.

They looked at the educational value of the prime ministers path project, how the community has been affected, and the lack of community engagement in the process, including the Township's original decision to establish the path at Castle Kilbride.

The report suggested the immediate removal of the four existing statues on the path, saying the program lacks education value and the division it's caused the community outweighs any potential upside.

Councillor Jen Pfenning said at Monday’s meeting, that despite the good intentions of the project it has caused too much pain in the community to continue.

"However, it is clear that the impacts do not match those intentions. When we are faced with negative impacts that are a direct result of a decision we have made, we must take responsibility for those impacts. We cannot absolve ourselves of the need to right the wrong simply because we had good intentions.”

The decision also included the creation of a working group to restore community cohesion and healing after a difficult year.

The Township will also rethink the community engagement process to better include citizens in decision making going forward.

“We want to reiterate that we recognize that this has been a difficult conversation for the community, however the hard work has only just begun. We hope that courage and kindness guide your future engagements to move forward on these issues and remind you all that Wilmot has the potential to show Canada that healing and reconciliation can be achieved,” said Guy Freedman, president of First Peoples Group in a media release.

As for the remaining statues, a release from the Township states that staff will arrange for the immediate removal and temporary storage of the four remaining statues on the path.