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District, Legion to formalize upkeep of Sooke cenotaph

Groups will sign a memorandum of understanding
Canadian Forces members provided guard duty at the Sooke cenotaph during Remembrance Day ceremonies in 2022. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror).

The District of Sooke will take the next steps toward formalizing an agreement with the Royal Canadian Legion to maintain the town’s war cenotaph.

A section of the cenotaph’s structure collapsed earlier this year due to rotting latticework.

Ted Davies, president of the Sooke Legion branch, said the district is responsible for maintaining the cenotaph. But when Davies approached the district about the repair, he was told the district had not budgeted for the cenotaph’s upkeep.

It was a miscommunication between district staff and the Legion, said Raechel Gray, Sooke’s deputy chief administrative officer.

“We’ll endeavour not to let this happen for future years,” she said.

RELATED: Sooke council agrees to foot maintenance bill for cenotaph upkeep

RELATED: A quick history of the Sooke cenotaph

The district has had an informal agreement for maintaining the cenotaph since 2018.

Cenotaph maintenance costs the district about $750 year and includes weeding, pressure washing and flag replacement.

As part of the 2023 budget, staff will propose a project to replace the lattice panel fencing. Composite materials would be used to increase longevity and reduce maintenance costs. A one-time capital investment of approximately $10,000 is anticipated.

The Legion and Sooke have a strong history of collaboration on projects and programs, such as Remembrance Day.

Davies and council agreed a formal agreement was needed, and councillors voted to create a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

“The key for the Legion is the MOU, so there is clarity between the District of Sooke and the Legion over the responsibility for the upkeep of the cenotaph,” said Coun. Jeff Bateman.

Built in 1920, the cenotaph has graced three locations in Sooke. In 1920, it was at the corner of Murray and Sooke roads. It moved to the corner of Sooke and Sheilds roads in 1953, and its current location in 1979 next to the Legion on Eustace Road.

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Kevin Laird

About the Author: Kevin Laird

It's my passion to contribute to the well-being of the community by connecting people through the power of reliable news and storytelling.
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