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Langley City council ready to spend more than $50,000 on public art
A rejected interactive art wall on the theme “Before I Die I Want To …” was just one of several ideas put forward to Langley City council by the Recreation Culture and Public Art Advisory Committee.
However, unlike the ill-fated chalk art wall, an additional five projects recommended by the RCPAAC in anticipation of the upcoming B.C. Senior Games found unanimous approval among members of council at its Jan. 27 meeting — although the initiatives were not without their critics.
RCPAAC chair Councillor Rosemary Wallace forwarded the committee’s request for council to approve a total of $53,500 from the current public art budget of $67,188 to fund a number of projects in anticipation of the seniors games, which are coming to Langley in September.
Among those projects is the erection of artistic signage at the corner of 51B Avenue and 207 Street, which would direct visitors to the Langley Community Music School and Al Anderson Memorial Pool, as well as nearby parks and sports fields, at a cost of $25,000.
Councillor Gayle Martin pointed out that the City recently committed a great deal of money to uniform “way finding” signage in the City and wondered how the motion for the artistic signage fit with that.
The new artistic signage will complement, not match, the remainder of the City’s way finding signs, said planner Gerald Minchuk.
“It’s separate and distinct,” said Minchuk, the City’s director of development services.
“I understand it’s separate and distinct,” replied Martin.
“My understanding is (the way finding signage) would be uniform. If it’s artistic, it’s not uniform.”
The RCPAAC also recommended the commission of three murals — one at the Langley Lawn Bowling Club (depicting seniors) at a cost of up to $25,000, another at the Douglas Park Pump House (depicting children and water) and the third on the washroom at Penzer Bike Park (depicting bikes and sports in general) at a cost of up to $3,000.
The plan also calls for music and sports-related banners along 207 Street, between 51B and 48 Avenues, at a cost of up to $250 per theme, not including installation.
The City’s public art fund is made up of money paid by developers of multi-family residences. In order to receive building permits, developers are required to contribute $1,000 per residential unit to the account, a figure which was recently doubled from its previous $500/unit.
Prior to that, the fund was built through voluntary donations from developers, explained Minchuk.
“I can live with the expenditure coming out of an existing budget, not coming from taxpayers,” said Councillor Dave Hall.
“Public art is a bonus, it adds to quality of life.”
However, Hall said, his difficulty is with the public art selection process, which plays out between the RCPAAP and council, with little to no input from residents.
That is a missing step, he said.
“Let’s send this out to the public for reaction — ‘Before we commission this, what do you think?’
“Otherwise it’s just a few people at a table judging the value of a work of art — and it’s public art.”
Committee members include a wide cross section of Langley and are representative of the community at large, said Wallace.
“Yes, the public should be in the know,” she agreed.
That’s why they are welcome to attend council meetings and are able to contact council members directly if they have questions, she said.
Any designs recommended by the committee will be coming back to council for approval said Wallace.