July 19th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 29
Municipality involves community in plans for beautification
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Pass Herald Reporter
When it comes to community beautification, who better to consult with than the very artists and creative people who live here?

On many occasions at council meetings, this Council has expressed a strong vision and dedication to beautifying Crowsnest Pass, an endeavor that will benefit locals and tourists alike.

As a step forward in this initiative, Lorrie O’Brien, CAO, and Joey O’Brien, Manager of Community Services met with the Crowsnest Pass Allied Arts Association in May requesting their input about which beautification projects they would like to see in the community.

“If you’re talking about community beautification, whom would you go to but the experts?” says Joey O’Brien. “We really want to engage them because our role in the municipality is best served if we’re quarterbacks as opposed to the person running with the ball. So if we have entities as skillful and as knowledgeable as the Art Society and they are engaged and prepared to do something, everybody benefits.”

The purpose was to get the outside creative community’s input on art and culture in public spaces and receive a clear sequence of priorities to inform the urban design.
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“I felt it was a very productive, optimistic meeting. I think that Lorrie and Joey see the value of adding this kind of element to the community that enhances the tourist aspect and the quality of life for the residents,” says Allied Arts Association board member Joni MacFarlane. “I’ve heard [Lorrie] speak on numerous occasions and she uses the word ‘art’ in the community as a way to enhance it. It’s the first time in my 15 years of living here that I have heard anyone in the municipality use the word ‘art’.”

Approximately 30 members of the public met at the Artist Collective Studio in Coleman on July 11 to brainstorm ideas. The session was open to all members of the public.

“It’s not necessarily for things that we can do tomorrow. They can be long-range. They can be small, inexpensive things all the way through to really amazing things. We’re looking for your ideas tonight and your input,” said MacFarlane at the start of the meeting. “I’d really not like to get bogged down in process, i.e. execution, but rather get a broader perspective on what we could do.”

Dozens of creative ideas, big and small, long-term and short-term, expensive and economical were expressed. It was a collaborative effort that expanded on each idea, resulting in a potpourri of creative visions that would make Crowsnest Pass a more enjoyable space to live, play and work in, all while attracting tourism to the area.

Some ideas celebrated the notorious Crowsnest Pass wind instead of berating it, with ideas of kite festivals, and interactive, musical wind sculpture parks.
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Pam Vamplew’s idea was to designate a community totem animal, most fittingly a crow, that the public can paint and decorate in their own style, highlighting the different artists in the Pass. The crows could be as different in materials as there are number of crows.

Inspired by the charming town squares of Europe, Corrie Bubik proposed sprucing up Blairmore’s main street to disguise the train tracks in the background.

“We could plant some good, hearty trees on one side so that at least it’s lifelike instead of just the railway gravel. That’s one thing I’ve always dreamed of,” says Bubik. “Especially at the 4-way stop in Blairmore, how can we draw people in to see that it’s a fun, interesting place to snap photos and put them on Instagram? That’s easy, free marketing when people are sharing these things.”

Other ideas proposed dedicated alleys for sanctioned graffiti, community gardens, mosaic tile art installations, laser festivals projected on Turtle Mountain,

The next step, says MacFarlane, is to compile the ideas and present them back to Administration.

The municipality has allocated $15,000 to community beautification projects as part of the 2017-2018 budget. The beautification projects will be a collective effort between the municipality and the community, with the funds put towards initiatives that the creative community of Crowsnest Pass wants to see, as well as projects the municipality itself has designed.

During two Crowsnest Community Market Thursdays, Joey has conducted a Bristol board survey to gather valuable feedback and input from the community on what beautification initiatives they would like to see.

“We have six broad categories that we’re asking for people for some guidance in. We’re doing a number of things trying to solicit opinions and get direction from our citizens,” says Joey.

Look out for Joey at future markets to provide your input.
July 19th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 29
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