During the campaign, I will be discussing the issues facing Ward 11 residents. One of the more recent pressing issues in Calgary is the city’s public art policy.

With the unveiling of the ‘Bowfort Towers’ art installation earlier this summer, the City’s Public Art Policy has been a topic on the minds of many Ward 11 residents. We all agree public art is important; it promotes innovation, it showcases a city’s culture and personality and it highlights our incredible talent. At the same time, we cannot lose sight of our fiscal responsibility to Calgarians.

I support the motion put forth by councillors earlier this month to reexamine the City’s Public Art Policy and I believe now is the time to make sure we get this policy right. Recent events have shown that Calgary’s Public Art Policy consultation process must be improved and simplified, as I hear at the doors — let’s not unnecessarily complicate policy.

Our Issues:

  1. Calgarians feel they are not given enough opportunity to engage with and provide input towards the public art process.
  2. Several recent public art projects have been unveiled without significant engagement by citizens and have been received negatively by Calgarians.
  3. Existing federal and provincial regulations are over-restrictive on how dollars for public art can be used; This has resulted in public money being spent on art projects which are located in areas which are inaccessible or otherwise undesirable.

My Strategies:

  1. Enhance the Visibility and Robustness of Citizen Engagement – In my conversations with residents, they have expressed their concerns on the lack of opportunity for citizens to engage on the public art process. It’s clear from feedback, that current opportunities for engagement are not well communicated or accessible. City Hall needs to be better at communicating how Calgarians can provide their feedback, including:
    • Participation on the public art selection panels.
    • Priority setting for the types and location of public art projects.
  2. Push for Changes to Provincial and Federal Regulations that restrict the way money is spent on public art – City administration identified the need to change provincial and federal regulations a number of years ago, but this has not yet been done. Changing these regulations will allow Calgary to build projects in areas that are more desirable and accessible to provide maximum public benefit.
  3. Review the Public Art Funding Model – The City’s economic circumstances have changed considerably since the funding model was last modified in 2014. A review of the funding formula is necessary to ensure that current levels of funding align with Calgary’s current realities and priorities.
  4. Link Public Art Engagement to the Main Streets and nextCity projects – City Hall can leverage existing consultations under the Main Streets and nextCity project to engage public feedback on public art, and link public art projects to accessible and inclusive locations in the City.

Ward 11 Outcomes:

  1. Better citizen engagement: Providing Ward 11 residents with more opportunities for their feedback and engagement is a priority for me. Reviewing the public art engagement process means that more of our neighbours will have a chance for their voices to be heard on this issue.
  2. Better use of tax dollars: Calgarians across the city, and in Ward 11 deserve to be assured that their tax dollars are being spent wisely, while living within our city’s means and the new economic realities.
  3. Creating inclusive, and accessible community spaces: It’s important to have spaces that all neighbours can access, enjoy, and benefit from. Revising Calgary’s public arts process allows for better linkages to existing public space consultations like nextCity and Main Streets and will create better communities across this city, including in our own Ward.