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Historical Port Coquitlam cenotaph to be moved — again

Port Coquitlam has hired architects and engineers to redesign Veterans Square, including moving the 98-year-old cenotaph.
PoCo Cenotaph
Plans are in the works to move the Port Coquitlam cenotaph, shown here when it was moved to the current city hall site in 1968.

Port Coquitlam’s 98-year-old cenotaph will be moving — again.

The striking monolith with the names of veterans from the two world wars and the Korean conflict is slated for relocation.

But not this year.

Residents seeking to place poppies on the cenotaph in front of Remembrance Day on Thursday, Nov. 11, can still do so, although there won’t be a public event.

However, plans are in the works to move the solemn structure next year as part of a $5.8 million redevelopment of the civic precinct.

The city has hired Binnie Engineering and MIZA Architects, as well as lighting design and art specialists, to create a plan for the downtown area, which includes Veterans Park and Leigh Square.

More information will be revealed at an upcoming council meeting, but Melony Burton, Port Coquitlam's manager of infrastructure, confirmed that the obelisk will be moved to a “more prominent location” to provide more space for future Remembrance Day events.

“There’s no desire by the city to impose any changes on the monument,” said Burton. “Most of the changes are within the existing park and square."

Drew Lydiard, president of Port Coquitlam Legion branch 133, is waiting to see more detail but isn’t concerned about relocating the cenotaph.

The legion has been consulted about the plan and has been giving input to the designers, he said, while more research is being done to support the project.

“They were very open. We were invited to meetings. We wanted lighting on the ground and the city has taken our advice and they’ve been very good.”

But even if it moves a few yards or a few feet, re-positioning the cenotaph will be a delicate task.

Still, it's not the first time the cenotaph has been relocated.

Its original site was McMitchell Park on Flint Street, a prominent spot at the time because it was near what was then city hall.

Constructed with funds raised by the community during a fundraising drive, it was dedicated Nov. 11, 1923, according to information provided by  PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives.

In 1968, it was moved in front of the current Port Coquitlam City Hall.