Coquitlam council is set to adopt a public art policy this month - about a decade after a task force held workshops, sought community input and issued a report on ways to beautify the city.
On Monday, the city's recreation committee approved a proposed program that, if endorsed by council, would see a community art project completed every year and a commemorative civic art work every two years.
An example of a recent community art project is Coquitlam Synthesis, a mural of portraits drawn by Pinetree secondary art students that now hangs in a city hall boardroom. A commemorative civic art project would recognize an anniversary; Pioneer Spirit, near Mackin Park, pays tribute to Maillardville's 100th birthday.
As well, the proposed policy calls for managing the current public art inventory, encouraging developers' gifts and organizing a means for residents to donate towards public art.
The city's 2010-'20 Cultural Strategic Plan mandates that a public art policy be developed.
In March, the city's arts and culture advisory committee, chaired by Coun. Neal Nicholson, suggested council dedicate a portion of casino cash for public art and/or consider using 0.5% from city land sales. That recommendation was deferred until the formal public art policy came forward. But last month, the committee offered an alternative: Have council set aside $25,000 to $50,000 annually for public art.
Councillors at Monday's rec committee bristled at the suggestion and, instead, voted to consider funding options for public art at November's budget discussions for next year.
"We need regular contributions," said Coun. Selina Robinson, who is the arts and culture advisory committee vice chair. "It should be a standard line item. It means that when something for a project comes up, that's going to cost $1,500, we have it in the budget."
She added, "Fund it or not, I think it needs to be part of the conversation every year."
Coun. Barrie Lynch said while he supports public art, he doesn't believe taxpayers have an appetite to buck up for it.
"I'm not sure there's a lot of residents in Coquitlam that want to donate to public art," said Coun. Doug Macdonell, who recommended the city start a public art endowment fund.
Nicholson said council should consider looking at a major project for the city's 125th birthday in 2016.
Last year, Wesbild, a major Coquitlam land developer, gave $50,000 to the city for a fountain at Lafarge Lake; the city added another $40,000 worth of decorative landscape lighting around the fishing pier. Polygon Homes also shelled over $5,000 for a living sculpture near the Poirier branch of the Coquitlam Public Library.
Meanwhile, the city of Port Coquitlam is now formulating its public art policy and, last week, held its first public input session. An online survey is available at www.portcoquitlam.ca/arts until June 25. The feedback will be collected and a second input session will happen on June 30, where a draft policy framework will be presented.