Public art cap could be changed

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Councillors concerned new policy doesn’t allow for growth

Some St. Albert city councillors aren’t happy with a cap on public art spending.

In April, councillors voted 4-2 to allocate one per cent of all municipal capital funding toward public art, up to a maximum of $220,000, instead of having it funded through both the municipal and utility capital budgets.

Councillors got their first look at a revised public art policy, which included those changes, at the Sept. 10 meeting of the governance, priorities and finance committee.

The changes will move forward to council thanks to a unanimous committee vote, but could include a cap that accounts for growth instead of the current static limit on spending.

Kelly Jerrott, the city’s director of cultural services, said the revisions mean there’s more transparency about how public art is funded. However, she relayed concerns to councillors from the public art advisory committee, which was consulted on the changes.

“The committee did have some concerns with the cap and the potential limiting nature of that, and the fact it would have to go back (to council) to change the policy,” she said.

“They had indicated that their support was to have something that adjusted as per the growth of the community.”

While Mayor Cathy Heron voted in favour of sending the revised policy to council, she said she questions what will happen if the cap isn’t changed.

“In 10 years, $220,000 won’t go as far as it does today,” she said.

Coun. Natalie Joly, who was one of two people in April who voted against the changes, said she may discuss the policy with city manager Kevin Scoble to see if they can bring an alternative to council for final approval.

Her main concern was that the policy would need to keep coming back to council to be adjusted.

“That’s work that none of us need to do,” she said.

“I want to think about this and see what we can do so that we don’t have to keep looking at this every five years.”

Coun. Sheena Hughes, who brought the original motion forward in April to change the policy, said she would not have a problem with discussing different solutions for the cap.

“If we need to do something to simplify it, and you want to come back with some kind of suggestion to address this so it doesn’t create more work in the long haul, that’s fine with me as well – as long as it is in a moderate and reasonable fashion,” she told Jerrott.

Coun. Ken MacKay said while he shares Heron’s and Joly’s concerns, he also believes the process to revise the cap would be a simple one.

“If we need to identify extra dollars, we’ll be back,” he said.

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April Hudson

April is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette