Starting with the 2019 budget, the City of Wetaskiwin council will be allocating funds from capital construction projects for public art.
In the city’s 2015 to 2018 strategic plan council identified developing public art as a priority.
During next year’s budget process, council will allocate 0.5 per cent of the total annual cost of construction projects. The funds will be placed in the newly established public art reserve fund, as per the public art policy councillors approved during their March 12 meeting.
While some councillors spoke in favor of focusing on public art others were concerned with the original one per cent administration had recommended.
“One per cent is pretty typical,” said Lisa Novotny, manager of engineering and development.
When council voted to amend the one per cent to 0.5 per cent Coun. Dean Billingsley was opposed.
“I’m in favour of half a per cent,” said mayor Tyler Gandam, who added it will be hard to sell the community on the importance of public art when the city is 30 years behind in infrastructure projects.
“For me, public art really defines a community. It’s essentially the flavor of a community,” said Coun. Patricia MacQuarrie. She says council has a role to play with public art as a means to elevate culture in the community.
Coun. Wayne Neilson agreed with the benefits public art can bring a community but is concerned with the number of infrastructure projects coming up.
“I think for something you’re just starting off with one per cent is pretty heavy,” said Coun. Alan Hilgartner.
MacQuarrie had also motioned for $50,000 — currently earmarked for a centerpiece for the downtown traffic roundabout — to be moved from general reserves to the public art reserve fund.
MacQuarrie argued if the roundabout centerpiece came in less than the $50,000 the remaining funds should automatically remain for public art use.
The motion was defeated, as only MacQuarrie, Neilson, and Coun. Kevin Lonsdale voted in favour and all other members of council were opposed.