Juno Beach Centre saved from Condo development

Juno Beach

(Left to right) Dr. Dean Oliver, Acting Vice-President and Director General, Canadian War Museum; retired brigadier general Ernie Beno, Director, Juno Beach Centre Association; Marie Eve Vaillancourt, Exhibitions Director, Juno Beach Centre Association; The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence; Michel Miraillet, Ambassador of France to Canada; Emmanuel Dubourg, Member of Parliament for Bourassa and Chair of Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs; Luc Desilets, Member of Parliament for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles and Vice-Chair of Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Photo supplied.

Peter Mallett, 
Staff Writer

A famous museum and memorial dedicated to Canada’s vital role in the D-Day Landings will remain intact thanks to the support from the Canadian government.

On Oct. 7, the Government of Canada announced a $4-million contribution with French municipalities to purchase land adjacent to the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France. The land was previously sold for condominium development.

“Canadians came ashore at Juno Beach as part of the most ambitious military operation the world has ever seen and helped liberate the continent,” said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, in a Veterans Affairs Canada news release on Oct. 7. “This agreement will safeguard and preserve this portion of Juno Beach for future generations.”

Federal government officials in France and Canada, the municipal government of the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer, and the regional government of Normandy contributed to the purchase and preservation of the parcel of land identified for the development.

Initial cash payment will cover securing the land from a developer and reimbursing them for complete on-site remediation.

The land will form one site with two adjacent plots, and a 99-year lease will be negotiated.

Minister MacAulay said the investment secures the long-term protection of Juno Beach and the sites commemorative use. He emphasized it also supports the Juno Beach Centre’s work in honouring the achievements and sacrifices of those who fought for freedom and democracy.

On June 6, 1944, Canadians landed on Juno Beach as part of the D-Day invasion that marked a turning point for Allied forces during the Second World War. The Centre pays homage to all 45,000 Canadians who lost their lives during the Second World War. The Centre opened in 2003 with a mandate to preserve this legacy for future generations through education and remembrance.

Juno Beach Executive Director, Alex Fitzgerald-Black, met the purchase news with great enthusiasm.

“We are full of gratitude to Veterans Affairs Canada and all parties involved for coming through and making this commitment,” Fitzgerald-Black said.

Cindy Clegg of the Save the Juno Beach Centre orchestrated a massive e-mail and letter-writing campaign last March to get the attention of Members of Parliament.

“There were tens of thousands of people who took time to write their Members of Parliament,” she said.

Clegg says over 70,000 letters had been sent when the letter-writing campaign concluded at the end of June, and it did the trick.

“Saving the Centre was a moon shot at best and I can’t think of a better outcome than France and Canada getting together to solve the problem,” she said.

Juno Beach

(Left to right) retired brigadier general Ernie Beno shakes hands with The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay.
Photo supplied.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.