Canada Udder confusion surrounds fate of cow-on-stilts

15:53  04 december  2017
15:53  04 december  2017 Source:   Toronto Star

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Residents who were waiting for statue to be removed shocked to see stonework being carried out around the base.

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Charity the cow was supposed to be moooved, but instead the statue is being set into stone.

Residents who live near Markham’s infamous cow-on-stilts were surprised, in recent days, to find large pieces of granite installed around the base of the 25-foot-high statue — leaving many to wonder if the city was backtracking on its promise to herd it to greener pastures.

In October, Markham city councillors finally agreed to move the stainless steel statue of Charity: Perpetuation of Perfection from Charity Cres., in Markham’s quiet subdivision of Cathedraltown, to a more cow-friendly location.

The decision came after protests from nearby residents who felt the public art piece had been installed in a small parkette near their homes without any notice, consultation or input from them. They also felt the larger-than-life statue was too close to their houses, forcing them to see the bovine replica at all times of the day.

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Council voted overwhelmingly to move Charity, once they had ownership of the donated art piece and could figure out where to put her.

So locals were confused last week, when they saw large pieces of stone being laid out around the base of the statue.

“It doesn’t look like this thing is going to come down anytime soon,” said Cathedraltown resident Murray Locke, who noticed the stones when he was out walking the dog.

City officials, however, said it’s still their intention to move the statue.

“Ownership of the sculpture has been formally transferred to the city in accordance with the terms of the agreement between the city and the donor,” city spokeswoman Andrea Berry said. “The city is taking steps to prevent the performance of any further landscaping work in connection with the sculpture, and in keeping with the city’s intent to relocate the sculpture.”

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But Ed Shiller, the spokesperson for Helen Roman-Barber, the developer who donated the artwork, refutes the city’s claim.

“Romandale is the owner of Charity. The city is not the owner and can no longer obtain ownership,” Shiller wrote in an email. “The city has a duty to take care of Charity. The sculpture itself was completed long ago, and the installation was approved by the city. The granite is part of the approved landscaping design.”

But according to a memorandum signed between the developer and the city, the city will consult “with the donor prior to any final decision being made regarding the sculpture’s removal and relocation,” it says, adding “the decision of the city shall be final.”

Roman-Barber created the statue of Charity, believed to be “the most perfect cow there ever was,” to honour her father, businessman Stephen Roman, who had partial ownership of the show cow, and owned Romandale Farms which sits on the land, near Elgin Mills Rd. and Major Mackenzie Dr., where Cathedraltown was built.

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For most of the summer, the statue, which was erected in July, was surrounded by temporary fencing and yellow tape. It was unclear when council voted to move Charity, if the structure would have to be completely finished before that could be done, said local resident Danny Da Silva.

“Our understanding was that it could be accepted by the city without it being completed,” said Da Silva, who can see Charity from his house.

Children play at the base of the statue of Charity the cow, shortly after it was installed in Cathedraltown in Markham in July.© STEVE RUSSELL Children play at the base of the statue of Charity the cow, shortly after it was installed in Cathedraltown in Markham in July.

But in an email to Da Silva from Niamh O’Laoghaire, the director of the Varley Art Gallery, the statue will be set in stone and then removed.

“This is part of the work that the city committed to do and must execute to meet the terms of the donation agreement. When Charity is moved, the city will move the granite platform as well,” she said.

Da Silva says the entire process has been mired in confusion.

He says at this point, he would like to see a list of alternative locations being suggested by staff to have assurance the statue will be moved as promised.

They city is expected to report back to Markham council with the list soon.

Da Silva says that can’t happen soon enough.

“There’s been so much confusion around this that I don’t think I will be happy now, until they finally move the thing,” he said. “I just want this nightmare to end.”

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