May 2nd, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 18
Community beautification, a desire and an ambiguity
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Pass Herald Reporter
Community beautification projects are known to contribute positively to the well-being of communities in many ways beyond just creating visual appeal. On the economic front, an aesthetically pleasing community increase property values and attracts visitors, new residents and new business to the area.

This Council realizes that. They have dedicated $16,000 in the budget towards community beautification projects that get the community involved, $15,000 from municipal funds and a $1,000 donation from Riversdale Resources. However, they are having difficulty defining a vision of the type of projects they would like to see that would maximally benefit the community.

Since the beginning of the year, two proposals have been presented to Council that intend to create visually appealing artwork on municipal buildings, both of which have not gone through municipal approval.

The first project began in May 2017 when Lorrie O'Brien, the municipality's former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), attended a Crowsnest Pass Allied Arts Association board meeting to request any groups to get involved in community beautification and come up with suggestions for projects.

The Creative Minds Group, a collective of local artists interested in beautifying the community, gathered to brainstorm ideas for the types of public art projects that could be done in the Pass.
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After meeting with Administration and working within the parameters they set out, the Creative Minds Group came up with their first proposal, a row of trout along the south-facing fence of the Crowsnest Community Pool to create something vibrant on the chain link fence as well as provide some privacy to the swimmers, but still allow for viewing on the west side where the bleachers are located.

The Creative Minds Group worked with the Crowsnest Pass Community Pool Society and made several adjustments to their design to adhere to what the Pool Board wanted.

"We, the Board members, suggested that the fish be reduced in size from 7 feet to 6 feet, and be placed along the top of the fence instead of the middle," says Leone Stacheruk, chairperson of the Pool Society Board.

Ultimately, both groups were unable to come to a common agreement and the Creative Minds Group withdrew their proposal.

“We felt like we lost control of the project at that point,” says Lynnette Jessop, project manager for Creative Minds Group. "It would not have had good artistic flow if we had it only in the top quarter of the fence, so we chose not to proceed with the project with the guidelines that were given to us by Council and the Board."

According to Mayor Blair Painter, Council received a recommendation from the Pool Society to not proceed with the project. The main concern was that visibility into the pool grounds would be too restricted for people wishing to watch their children and grandchildren from the east side of the pool, rather than the designated viewing area with bleachers on the west side, which provides limited view of the children's pool.
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Karen Tamminga-Paton is a local artist and member of the Creative Minds Group who was involved with drafting the mock-up drawings for the art proposal.

"You have to trust your artists," she says, explaining that members of the Creative Minds Group are skilled, established artists that have much to offer in the realm of public art. And while she understands that there are funding and constructural components that require municipal direction, the art element should be left to the professionals.

Following the retraction of the trout sculpture proposal, Council was still determined to pursue a beautification project that involved the community, so in March 2018, the municipality re-issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for public proposals on beautification projects.

They received a second proposal from the Crowsnest Pass Creative Minds Group, this time to paint a mural of ravens on the water town along the road leading up to the ski hill in Blairmore.

But when it came to Council for consideration, the project was tabled.

"Before we commit to the suggested painting of ravens on that structure, it will take considerable more investigation to see if it's at all viable," says Mayor Blair Painter.

Council ultimately decided that they need to determine a stronger strategic vision before committing the funding to any one project.
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Councillor Lisa Sygutek recommended that discussions about community beautification be incorporated in Council’s upcoming Strategic Planning discussions.

“I don’t think we know what we want. I think that the concepts that we’re getting are great concepts, but I don’t think we know where we want to be going with our beautification process. We keep coming back to the table with new ideas,” she said at the March 27 Council meeting where the ravens mural was presented.

The Parks and Recreation Authority Board has suggested bringing the community together at an open house in mid-June to suggest what kind of community beautification they would like to see. This would serve as a long-term vision for Council, who will prioritize projects based on funding, feasibility and importance.

"We're going to wait and see what suggestions we get after the open house. If they're all over the map, then we'll get them focused, but if there's a certain theme that people like, that may make it an easier decision on where we're headed. Those discussions will happen after the open house," says Mayor Painter.

For now, Council has committed to using money earmarked last year for landscaping the east entrance welcome sign. On numerous occasions, they have expressed the importance of having a well-presented entrance sign as it acts as the window into the community and is the first impression that people traveling east along Highway 3 get of Crowsnest Pass.

As for the Creative Minds Groups, Jessop says they are open to presenting new ideas for public art to Council.

"Public art is a very challenging topic at any time, so I think they’re a little cautious on proceeding. We don’t hold any hard feelings towards Council on it," she says. "It’s just frustrating that we put in a lot of work developing two full blown concepts that have met some resistance, but we would like to continue to work to get some public art in Crowsnest Pass. We have a very strong artistic community here and it would be nice to show off some of their talents."
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May 2nd, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 18
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