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No room for public art in city budget

City council is moving forward with a policy to manage public art pieces but how the program will be funded is still up in the air.

City staff were recommending the policy be funded with .301 per cent of the previous year’s overall operating revenues, but council thought otherwise.

Coun. Ron Kerr was hesitant to commit to that kind of money in next year’s budget and suggested council wait until 2015.

“I think we all know that in the 2014 budget we’re pretty much all holding the line,” Kerr said. “It seems inappropriate to begin an initiative like this right at this present time but I’d really hate to see the public art policy go away and I really feel that this is one area that perhaps we could get hung up on.”

Coun. Claire Moglove, said that by holding off, it was delaying the inevitable.

“The problem I see is that in 2015, the pressures on the operations budget we’re facing in 2014 aren’t going to be much different,” Moglove said. “We did our budget deliberations last week and the cost drivers associated with the budget, those pressures will continue in 2015.

“I’m concerned that financing for the public art policy will fall by the wayside with those pressures.”

Moglove said council should adopt the public art policy without a financing strategy for the time being and that council should look at funding the policy through capital.

Coun. Andy Adams said council needed to find a new financing strategy but disagreed it should be put off until 2015.

“I’m loathe to encumber a future council with financial decisions,” said Adams, who suggested the funding come from new revenues instead of from the operations budget, or general taxation. “If staff can come back with another structure, that doesn’t directly impact taxation, I’d be more willing to take a look at it. I would suggest the funding formula be based on new revenues and the percentage come off of new revenues. The new revenues we’re going to see will come off the downtown area, which is the area we want the public art policy to see the most impact.”

In the end, council approved a motion to adopt the public art policy without a funding strategy but have city staff come back with a report outlining options for using a percentage of capital and a percentage of new revenues to fund the policy.

 

Public Art Policy

  • Main goal of the policy is to support public art in the city and encourage respect for public art.
  • Incorporate public art into the design and execution of selected civic and private developments.
  • Inclusion of artists in the design process of municipally owned spaces, including parks, pathways, benches, and streets.
  • Create and manage a public art collection.
  • Form a public art committee which will advise council on the policy and be responsible for the selection and placement of all the public art work projects.
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