The Weeping Cedar Woman will officially be able to attend the 30th anniversary of the Meares Island Tribal Park designation.
Godfrey Stephens took just two weeks to carve the roughly 6.4 metre Weeping Cedar Woman statue that became an iconic figure in the 1984 Meares Island logging protest.
She has since moved to Victoria but a coalition of her supporters have been pushing for her return to Tofino not just for the 30th anniversary of the protest and subsequent Tribal Park designation but as a long-term piece of public art.
Her supporters have raised over 50 per cent of the $27,000 needed to secure the statue including acquisition and installation costs and the cost to bring her from Victoria to Tofino will tally about $1,500.
She is expected to arrive in Tofino on Wednesday.
Whether the statue will become a permanent piece of Tofinoâ€™s landscape is still up for debate as the district is working on a public consultation plan.
In order for her to attend April 20â€™s anniversary event, Tofinoâ€™s municipal council needed to approve a temporary location for her to stand outside the Tofino community hall.
During Tuesdayâ€™s regular meeting, council hashed out concerns over the definition of â€œtemporaryâ€ and agreed to give their approval with several conditions attached.
These conditions included an Oct. 31 deadline for a permanent location to be agreed upon through the public consultation process and a $1,500 bond to be collected from the statueâ€™s supporters to ensure the statue will be removed if public consultation calls for the statueâ€™s eviction.
The Oct. 31 deadline was chosen to give the district enough time to conduct public consultations and to avoid handing the issue over to Tofinoâ€™s next council, which will be voted into office in November.
Coun. Ray Thorogood supported the statueâ€™s attendance at the anniversary event but was opposed to her remaining on public land when the event is over.
â€œIf the groups who are behind this issue wish to bring the statue to Tofino for this particular weekend ceremony thatâ€™s fine but then be prepared to pay the $1,500 to get it out of here again too, or take it to private propertyâ€ he said.
Coun. Garth Cameron cautioned council about the ambiguity of the word â€˜temporary.â€™
â€œAll of us whoâ€™ve lived in Tofino for any length of time knows that temporary usually means anywhere between 1-20 years,â€ he said.
Coun. Duncan McMaster agreed and expressed concern over the statueâ€™s arrival prior to public consultation and before a permanent location was agreed upon.
â€œWhen we first started discussing this I said, although I was in favour of this statue returning to Tofino, I didnâ€™t want it to come until we decided where it was going to go,â€ he said. â€œThereâ€™s still a lot of contravecy and I think we need to decide where this statue is going to be other than bringing it here on a temporary thing which could be 50 years.â€
Coun. Dorothy Baert supported the Weeping Cedar Womanâ€™s return and spoke to the local efforts to bring the statue to Tofino.
â€œThereâ€™s been a lot of energy and effort by a number of people including people from the Tofino Arts Council and Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Society to bring this back,â€ she said.
â€œThis is what we want people in the community to do; to work with council to bring forward ideas. We spent a lot of money doing the arts culture and heritage master plans and in those plans thereâ€™s definite direction to council about supporting these kinds of things.â€
She suggested it would not be Tofinoâ€™s first controversial structure placed on public land.
â€œSome could argue that the Tonquin Anchor was controversial too,â€ she said.
She quieted her fellow councillorsâ€™ concerns over the ambiguous definition of â€œtemporaryâ€ by suggesting the Oct. 31 deadline and $1,500 bond that council ultimately agreed to.
McMaster asked whether $1,500 would be enough to remove the statue and district CAO Bob MacPherson assured that it would.
â€œWhat would be required on our part would be some crane and truck time and Iâ€™m comfortable that $1,500 would do that,â€ he said.
Coun. Al Anderson was impressed with the amount of money the statueâ€™s supporters were able to raise in a short amount of time.
â€œI think it took much longer to raise $15,000 for the (Tuff City) Skate Park than it took to raise money for this,â€ he said. â€œDespite the fact that thereâ€™s some people that donâ€™t support (the statue) in the community, thereâ€™s obviously strong and demonstrated-with-cash support for it.â€
Mayo Josie Osborne echoed Andersonâ€™s accolades.
â€œI want to acknowledge the significant work that this group of people has done and that they have raised all of this money, independent of any tax money. All of the work has been done by them to date,â€ she said.
She noted that having the statue standing in Tofino would give locals a chance to look it over before participating in the public consultation process that will determine whether Tofino becomes the Weeping Cedar Womanâ€™s long-term home.
McMaster asked about liability implications and district CAO Bob MacPherson responded the district is double-checking its liability coverage.
Thorogood asked what would be required of the districtâ€™s public works crew to install the statue and MacPherson responded that three temporary curbs will need to be removed from the community hall site and this should only take about 30 minutes of staff time.
Council approved the temporary location with Thorogood the only vote in opposition. During the meetingâ€™s open question period he said his vote was due, in part, to the statue not yet being fully paid for.
â€œI just was not in favour of it not being paid in full,â€ he said. â€œOwnership is going to be up in the air in my opinion, Godfrey (Stephens) is still the owner of the Weeping Cedar Woman.â€
Tofino local Menno van Barneveld expressed disappointment in how council has handled the issue since the coalition of Weeping Cedar Woman supporters first came forward in January.
He spoke to past comments made by Coun. Cameron regarding the community-division the Weeping Cedar Woman represents and asked Cameronâ€”who voted in favour of the statueâ€™s temporary locationâ€”what had changed his opinion.
â€œI havenâ€™t changed my point of view on the statue itself; itâ€™s coming back whether I want it or not; thatâ€™s already done,â€ Cameron said. â€œI donâ€™t want it to come back but itâ€™s coming back so why not work with my council to make it happen?â€