The group behind Canberra’s Immigration Bridge project will hold an international competition to design an alternative monument.
It has scrapped the original plan to build a commemorative bridge over Lake Burley Griffin and now wants to create a memorial to Australia’s migrants on land instead.
The 400 metre footbridge would have spanned the lake from Acton Peninsula to the Parliamentary Triangle.
But the proposal was criticised on aesthetic grounds and by boating clubs that say the bridge would have obstructed their activities on the lake.
Immigration Bridge chairman Laurie O’Donnell says the group changed its plans because of community opposition to the bridge idea.
“We want the monument to be something that all Australians can support and feel proud of,” he said.
“So we are moving in a new direction that we hope all sections of the community can unite behind.”
A site for the new monument has not been formally approved but Mr O’Donnell says it will probably be located near the National Archives in the Parliamentary Triangle.
“The new vision is for an interactive space called Immigration Place,” he said.
“This will not be a static monument in the traditional sense but instead be a living space where people can see, hear and experience stories from the immigrant community.”
Mr O’Donnell says it could also be used to hold citizenship ceremonies.
Once a site is selected the design competition will be launched. It is hoped the monument will be completed in time for Canberra’s centenary celebrations in 2013.
Mr O’Donnell says people who paid to have their names inscribed on the bridge will not lose out.
“We want them to continue to support us because they have paid their money for their names,” he said.
“They will be recorded and displayed in the new Immigration Place and that will be part of the design brief requirement.
“If they don’t wish to proceed we’re making a refund policy which will be on the website and they can approach us for that.”
Peter Dowling from the ACT National Trust says he is pleased the bridge will no longer go ahead.
But he supports the idea of a monument to immigrants.
The trust believes the bridge would have been detrimental to the view across the lake and would have clashed with Walter Burley Griffin’s plan for Canberra.
Mr Dowling says common sense has prevailed.
“It is a very sensible decision,” he said.
“It would have been an awful thing to have a monument to immigrants to Australia but a monument that wasn’t appreciated.”