Goodbye Prime Minister, hello Howard!
Eight months after the controversial removal of the John A. Macdonald statue from the front steps of Victoria’s city hall, a new figure will take its place: the world’s tallest gnome.
Named Howard, the 7.9 metre-tall gnome came perilously close to destruction last month after its owners announced that the landmark had become too disintegrated to keep.
Towering over Nanoose Bay for over 21 years (almost two-thirds as long as the John A. Macdonald statue had been on city hall’s steps) Howard originally appeared as part of a family-run amusement park but has been situated at a gas station since its closure.
However, after the people of Vancouver Island caught wind of the gnome’s plight, they banded together, raised money, and recently found him a new home: Galey Farms.
But before Howard could make the move to Saanich, a new bid came in from Victoria’s Municipal Government.
“We got an offer we couldn’t refuse,” said the Gnome’s representative, Lonni Flamingo.
Now, instead of living a relaxed farming life, the gnome will become an iconic downtown Victoria landmark!
Bike Lanes Rerouted
“We know Howard’s price tag will raise some issues with Victoria residents,” said City Councilor Sara Pans. “But we’ve never seen something bring the whole Island together the way this gnome did. That level of passion and community is truly priceless.”
Given the size of the Gnome, the Pandora street bike lanes will be slightly rerouted to allow cyclists to swerve directly through Howard’s legs.
“We wanted to give commuters and tourists alike the ‘full Howard experience'”, said Pans. “And the best way to do that is a 360-degree ride-through view.”
According to Victoria Buzz Financial Reporter Seanna Wainman, the minor roadwork to adjust the lanes will cost approximately $4.6 million and is expected to block vehicle traffic on Pandora street between Government and Douglas for 4-6 weeks.
Relocating, refurbishing, and reinstalling the gnome will require a budget estimated to be in the tens of millions, rivalling the cost of the new Johnson Street Bridge.
The John A. Macdonald statue, meanwhile, will be placed out front of the Nanoose Bay Esso.