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City won’t tap art funds for outfall grates

Council refuses call from Coun. Sheena Hughes to use art money for utilities

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 06:00 am

ARTISTIC FLOW GATE – Workers install a new art-inspired grate at Outfall No. 6 along the Sturgeon River in December. The project is the city’s first attempt at marrying public art with public infrastructure.
ARTISTIC FLOW GATE – Workers install a new art-inspired grate at Outfall No. 6 along the Sturgeon River in December. The project is the city’s first attempt at marrying public art with public infrastructure.
FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

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Artistically-rendered grit interceptors will not be partially paid for by use of the public art reserve.

A motion was before council on Monday night to pay $22,000 out of the reserve each time future flow gates and fencing are installed on the city’s outfalls, and to transfer $22,000 out of the public art reserve to the utility reserves to cover the costs of the fencing and flow gates installed at Outfall No. 6 in December.

Coun. Sheena Hughes put forward the motion, arguing that the extra costs to elevate the project from standard chain-link should be covered under public art.

City staff’s report disagreed, noting public art must be selected by a process that includes the Public Art Advisory Committee and a jury review.

“In the case of Outfall #6, while the design is considered to be artistic, it was seen as being more of a decorative component to the project that was in alignment with the City Branding,” reads the report.

City project manager Jon Cleland told the Gazette in December the cost difference was mostly due to the materials involved rather than the artistic design.

Coun. Wes Brodhead said making something aesthetically pleasing “is something we should accept as a standard” in this community.

“I think when a piece of infrastructure is created for the City of St. Albert that it should be an expectation that it bring value to our community and that it should be pleasing and that we should not settle … for something that is an eyesore before it’s even built,” he said.

Mayor Nolan Crouse pointed to recent utility projects in the city, the new waste transfer site and Lacombe Park Reservoir as examples of similar initiatives.

“Each of them are artistic versus having public art, and that’s a difference,” he said.

Hughes argued the money should be allocated back to utility reserves.

“It’s not a branding thing, we’re not putting our logo over it,” she said. “We’re trying to keep the costs in line.”

The motion was defeated 5-2, with Hughes and Coun. Cam MacKay voting in the minority.


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