EDMONTON -- A statue of Sir Winston Churchill that sits in the downtown Edmonton square that bears his name has been vandalized and left partly covered in red paint.

Police say they received a call about the vandalism around 10:45 a.m. on Thursday.

Estimates for time and cost of a clean-up have yet to be determined.

Mayor Don Iveson said that motivation behind the vandalism is unclear, but that the city welcomes discussion over issues of inclusiveness and addressing historical wrongdoing. 

"There are more productive ways to move society along towards a more inclusive and uplifting future than vandalizing city property," he said.

"The most productive debate and balanced community discussions are where facts can be shared and public input can be heard."

Iveson noted city council is scheduled to hear a report on Aug. 24 about reviewing and revising the city's naming policy.

Churchill is revered by many for his role as Britain's prime minister during the Second World War and leading the country to victory over Nazi Germany. 

But critics say he held racist views, particularly against India, and drew criticism for his defence of the colonial British Empire.

Similar statues in London and Canada have been defaced or boarded up within the past year.