June 23rd, 2024

Council OKs art buy for Police Point

By Collin Gallant on June 20, 2018.

After rejecting the purchase for the Canalta Centre, city council has approved a recommendation from the citys public art committee to buy a bison statue to be displayed at Police Point Park.--FILE IMAGE

Medicine Hat News

A second try at purchasing a granite bison statue as a public art project left at least one city councillor feeling buffaloed, but all supported the project Monday night, though there’s a movement to re-evaluate art-buying procedures.

Council heard a plan by the public art committee to spend $17,000 on a statue for Police Point Park that was rejected earlier this year for the Canalta Centre.

The venue was appropriate, councillors said, and the process in order and within the purview of the committee to propose.

In March, city council voted down a proposal to spend the remainder of an art budget at the Canalta Centre on the statue “Old Man Buffalo Stone” and another by the same artist, Stewart Steinhauer.

The majority argued that a $27,000 purchase was out of step with the council’s goal of limiting new spending in general, and the public would see it as frivolous.

Re-introducing the issue this month, public art chair Wes Bell said the statue fits well at the nature centre, as it speaks to early hunting culture on the prairies, as well as modern ideas of conservation and reconciliation, according to a prepared statement.

Coun. Kris Samraj, who led the opposition during the first proposal, said he supports the current plan, though “there’s some appetite to review the policy.”

Coun. Phil Turnbull said he understood the March vote to mean the money would be added to other art budgets, perhaps lowering the amount of new money required, not creating new projects.

“I thought the money would go into the reserve fund for future new buildings,” said Turnbull. “I do believe that we should make that change.

“To use a football term, it’s an end run to get the buffalo. I don’t like it, but I will support it.”

Chief administrator Merete Heggelund told council there was no specific direction given in March other than to place the funds in reserve.

The committee’s mandate allows them to suggest a wide variety of projects in the community, not just at new buildings, where one per cent of budget up to $100,000 is delineated for art-buying.

“We are going through and looking at all the mandates of the committees we had and as well the policies,” she said. “Therefore it’s a process that’s coming up, but we haven’t been told specifically by council to review the policy.”

Pot retail locations

Council also Monday heard first reading of proposed land-use changes that would allow recreational marijuana retail outlets to operate in the city centre and certain major commercial corridors in the city.

That bylaw will come back before council for debate and a public hearing on July 16.

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