Council approves athletic mural but says no to eco-sculpture public art

Airbrush artist Brad Dinwoodie’s athletic-inspired mural is moving forward after a seven-year stall
Coquitlam’s bee and flower eco-sculpture was used as an example during a council debate on future Pitt Meadows public art projects. City of Coquitlam image/Facebook

Seven years after it was initially proposed, an athletic community-inspired mural finally got the go-ahead from Pitt Meadows council last week.

Likely adorning the Pitt Meadows Arena, the mural is intended to celebrate the diversity of the community’s athletes, said artist Brad Dinwoodie.

In his initial concept, put forward in 2015, a number of sports are represented including: lacrosse, baseball, gymnastics, soccer, football, hockey, ringette, track and field and cycling. It was timed to coincide with the city’s 100th anniversary and had a proposed title of “100 Years of Sport”.

At the time, staff had concerns with materials to be used for the project, which would be painted on the building’s facade between the main entrance and the entrance to Arena 3. Those concerns have since been cleared up, Diane Chamberlain, director of parks, recreation and culture, told council during her presentation at the regular council meeting on May 3.

Dinwoodie has already secured $65,000 for the mural, which has been held in trust by the city since 2018. Chamberlain said staff are supportive of the project moving forward, but want to put in place a hard deadline for completing the project by the end of this year.

Dinwoodie proposed starting in August and wrapping up by September. He is an airbrush artist and previously worked on the mural at the fire hall in Pitt Meadows. 

Council was also told that the mural concept would be updated to reflect the diversity of the community before work starts. 

“It’s not just one ethnicity that is going to be featured in the mural because we are a very diverse community,” Dinwoodie said. “Inclusion is a must.”

He told council it’s likely the design will evolve before he starts the project and that the actual placement of figures will likely change. He’s planning to incorporate a Special Olympian and a member of Katzie First Nation participating in a sport that’s meaningful to the nation like lacrosse, kayaking or canoeing.

“The whole project is inclusion,” he said.

Following his presentation, council voted unanimously to approve the project.

They also had two other public art projects on the table.

The first was a street banner project for Harris Road. Chamberlain said the current banners are at the end of their life. While the cost of printing and installing the banners was covered in the budget, artist compensation was not.

When the city brought forward the BC Hydro box art project, they pledged to follow the recommended minimum artist compensation set out by the Canadian Artists Representation (CARFAC) in the future, according to Chamberlain. But those fees are not included in the budget and council would have to vote in favour of using the public art reserve to pay the artists an estimated $25,000 for designing more than 70 banners. Council voted unanimously in favour.

What tripped them up was the $125,000 price tag to fund an eco-sculpture at Waterfront Commons Park. It would eat up less than half of the current $287,000 in the public art reserve.

“It seems like a lot of money for Pitt Meadows,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall.

Chamberlain explained that sculptures like this can cost anywhere between $100 and $1-million, so the $125K estimate was conservative.

“There’s limited artists that work in this field,” she said. “So the artist designs it then there’s a fabricator so there’s multiple people involved in a project such as this.”

Chamberlain showed council a few examples of eco-sculptures from neighbouring municipalities like Sandra Bilawich’s 12-foot echinacea flower and accompanying three-foot bee that lives at a pollinator garden in Coquitlam. She said typically a frame is created that gets filled with various species in a greenhouse and it sits there for about six months so the plants get acclimatized to their new home. Depending on the type of plants used, the sculpture can be left outside during the winter months, or taken to a greenhouse for storage.

The city has already received a grant from BC Hydro to create a pollinator garden at Waterfront Commons Park and Chamberlain said they can continue with this project while leaving space for a sculpture in the future. 

Council balked at the price tag and ultimately voted to defer the eco-sculpture to business planning.

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