Firefighters memorial still not installed years after being created

But the entire memorial, which will feature a large tableau of firefighters fighting a fire, three flags, and then a separate three dimensional 10 ft. bronze sculpture of a firefighter rescuing a little girl through a window, hasn’t seen the full light of day and it is far from clear when it will be installed in downtown Windsor.

“It’s actually quite sad,” local sculptor Mark Williams, who created the memorial, said. “Because this piece, it’s supposed to be for fallen firefighters who are protecting us, right? And it’s not getting in the place it should be.”

Williams, sculptor of many civic projects including the new Brock-Tecumseh statue at the city’s new west side roundabout, said the memorial is “one of my favourite pieces.”

The memorial is the victim of the delay in reconstruction of the Detroit River shore wall, most of which is complete except for a last segment west of Dieppe Gardens.

The memorial was originally supposed to go next door to the current site but that proved an awkward spot.

“We were hoping for an aggressive time line that it would have been done for this year but with the delay of the riverfront project we’re probably looking – best case scenario – within the next year after that, so probably 2018,” Wayne Currie, who chairs the firefighters’ fundraising committee, said.

But even that date isn’t written in stone, and the installation could come much later.

“The finished product is going to be unbelievable,” Currie said. “It’s going to be beautiful and it’s going to pay a lot of tribute to the firefighters of the past, present and the future.” 

The previous location was deemed inappropriate because there was a slope. 

The new area is wide and flat.

“I think it actually a better venue and location for people to see it and to get exposure to it,” Currie said.

The new location is directly in front of the city’s aquatics centre, a site that is also integral to a couple of other proposed – and higher profile - city projects: a pedestrian tunnel under Riverside Drive and a marina.

And while the city has rebuilt the rest of the shoreline, “that’s the last bit of the shore wall downtown that has to be built,” Mike Clement of the city’s parks and recreation department, said.

But some of the rest of that steel shore wall was started as long as 10 years ago.

Installing the memorial now would undermine the structure because the land underneath needs to be reinforced.

“Until we go in and take that (old) wall out (consisting of old wooden piers) and put the new steel shore wall in there, that area is going to be unstable,” Clement said.

Clement said it’s up to city council to allocate funds for the last segment of the wall.

But council has yet to decide on projects like the new underpass under Riverside Drive.

“There’s future capital funding identified for it,” but it’s up to city council to make the decision to release it, Clement said.

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