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Council axes underpass artwork

A proposal that would have seen artistic embellishments added to the new pedestrian underpass saw council split on the idea, with the majority of politicians voting against it. The $4.

A proposal that would have seen artistic embellishments added to the new pedestrian underpass saw council split on the idea, with the majority of politicians voting against it.

The $4.5 million project is expected to come in slightly under budget and administration was in front of council last Tuesday (April 5) with a proposal to incorporate raised writing on the concrete surface of the structure.

Manager of engineering Kevin Van Vliet said installing four quotations would cost up to a maximum of $50,000 and discourage graffiti on the underpass structure.

“It is taking up some of that blank palette with an artistic expression or finish that is usually respected and does not have graffiti added to it,” Van Vliet said.

Council debated the merits of spending the money with only Councillors Jim Ridley, John Borrowman and Mayor Ron Casey voting in favour of it.

Borrowman commended engineering for thinking about embellishments for the roadway structures.

He said the Public Art Committee has been encouraging the Town to look at all opportunities for public art.

“I personally like the idea of quotations there,” Borrowman said. “Anytime the Town of Canmore spends money to embellish an otherwise ugly piece of concrete and make it better, I think it is a good idea.”

Casey said he would have preferred to see more options for council to consider.

Coun. Ed Russell questioned whether or not it was merely an exercise in spending all the money in the project’s budget.

“It strikes me as a spend it before we lose it mentality,” he said.

Coun. Gordie Miskow questioned whether the quotations would really prevent graffiti on the surface.

Miskow, Russell and councillors Hans Helder and Joanna McCallum voted against the motion.

The $4.5 million project came about as a result of a $3 million federal stimulus grant.

At the time council approved it, a conceptual design was presented because of tight timelines associated with the grant funding.

Part of the concept recommended arched concrete barriers at the sides of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Van Vliet said Alberta Transportation would not approve the proposal and as the project began construction challenges with budget implications saw some of the embellishments, lighting and landscaping scaled back.

With the project coming in approximately $150,000 under budget, he said there is opportunity to reinstate some of those items.

In addition to more landscaping, Van Vliet recommended spending up to $50,000 on raised lettering on the four barrier locations.

Council received a confidential report detailing the four quotations recommended by administration.

Van Vliet said the four quotations were chosen because they were inspiring and spoke to Canmore’s cycling and pedestrian culture..


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