A plan to transform the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery into an RCMP detachment has been criticized as “undemocratic” by residents opposed to the rezoning.
More than 250 residents have signed a petition to stop the rezoning, which would also affect parkland on Harris Road.
“This is critical to the character of our city and sets the tone for what we have professed to be ‘The Natural Place.’ Mature shade trees, our only small art gallery in the perfect location, our only pee wee regulation ballfield and bleachers; all of this is treasured and used constantly by the community,” petitioner Darlene Mercer said.
The decision to find a new spot for the detachment and provide better community services dates back three years, noted Pitt Meadows communication manager Carolyn Baldridge.
Baldridge added that the city has extended its support for the arts and ensured reassignment of the art gallery to a new space.
“The PMAG building has aged and will potentially be relocated to where the Community Policing Office is now, across from City Hall and in the same building as the Recreation Centre,” Baldridge wrote, adding that the Civic Centre area has been identified as an area for growth.
But as an artist herself, Mercer disagrees.
“I have informed the City staff and council that it’s wholly unacceptable as [the proposed relocation] is tucked away and out of sight of the general public and certainly anyone visiting the community for the day, not to mention, needing substantial renovation to be a working gallery,” she said.
At the cusp of the first lockdown in February 2020, the city organized the only Open House over what is being considered the ‘largest fiscal expenditure on an infrastructure project in the city’s history.’
“To have the Mayor declare ‘overwhelming support’ in a news article the next day because there weren’t 300 to 400 in attendance protesting the decision, at the beginning of the pandemic, showed profound lack of respect for what the public was undergoing and basic understanding of the due process by elected officials,” Mercer said.
An e-petition has been launched to stop the Pitt Meadows city council from developing the RCMP detachment in place of the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery.
Petitioner Darlene Mercer shared the news with the Ridge on Monday, November 8, 2021.
The petition, which was first reported on September 20, 2021, has received 511 signatures, by press time.
“The e-petition comes at a good time with the weather closing in. This should allow [for] much easier sharing and signing and also has a lot of background information on the issue including links to news articles, video of a Council meeting and quotes from two consultant reports,” she said.
Mercer requested that those who have signed the paper petition not duplicate their signatures by signing the digital version as well.