It has stood proudly on Baseline Road in Ottawa’s west end for over 60 years.
With the discoloration due to Ottawa’s harsh climate, the totem pole in front of the Scouts Canada building must give way to a development project.
Scouts Canada’s national headquarters on Baseline Road is the site of three proposed high-rise towers. If approved, the proposed development would house 952 residential units, according to the submitted proposal.
“With the shift to remote working, the shift to online retail and the transformation of the neighborhood surrounding our Ottawa office, we have identified an opportunity to seek a partner to redevelop or purchase our National Service Center at 1345, Baseline path,” Kayleigh Kanoza, director of change and strategy for Scouts Canada, said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa. “We intend to remain in Ottawa and seek to prioritize program space for our younger members, which could also provide collaborative space for our staff and volunteers.”
The totem pole has stood along Baseline Road since 1961. According to Scouts Canada, it was a gift from the BC government to celebrate the opening of the new headquarters.
“Designed and created by Kwakiutl Chief and world-renowned Northwest Coast sculptor, Chief Mungo Martin, and his grandson, Henry Hunt. It has become a well-known landmark in the Ottawa area and has been designated a historic monument by the City. Kanoza said.
The development, along with a proposed rapid transit corridor on Baseline Road, would mean the totem pole would have to be moved.
“Over the past few months, we’ve been engaging Chef Mungo Martin’s family on how best to honor the heritage of the totem pole in a culturally appropriate way,” Kanoza said.
“We are committed to respecting the wishes of the family and are actively exploring options to have the totem pole restored in conjunction with the family – many of whom have carried on the carving legacy of Chief Mungo Martin. will soon be part of the Baseline BRT route, we will also work with the City of Ottawa to identify a suitable public space for the totem pole, where the community can honor its historical and cultural significance.
The regional councilor says the totem pole in front of the Scouts Canada building is a landmark in the west.
“If the City of Ottawa can facilitate a new home for this totem pole, then we will,” the councilor said. Riley Brockington told CTV News Ottawa. “There are a number of development proposals both in the River neighborhood and across the street in Knoxdale-Merivale, so Baseline will see significant intensification over the next two decades.”
Brockington adds that the plan for a bus rapid transit corridor along Baseline Road.
“We want people to live near those corridors and, of course, use public transit to get where they need to go.”
The redevelopment plan still needs to be approved by Ottawa City Council.