McCracken Courtyard. (Google image)

Location of city art honouring hospital auxiliary chosen

City of White Rock sponsoring work to be placed at Peace Arch courtyard

A White Rock city-sponsored art work is to honour the women of the Peace Arch Hospital Auxiliary.

The public art project, to be located at the newly-renovated McCracken Courtyard at Peace Arch Hospital, is budgeted at $85,000, and the closing date for applications from professional artists and artist teams is June 20.

The project celebrates the women who originally formed the auxiliary in 1948 to raise funds for construction; Amy Weatherby, who donated the land; and the other women who, over the course of 70 years, have raised more than $13 million for the hospital.

At its May 14 meeting, council endorsed a motion from Coun. Lynne Sinclair, also a member of the city’s public art advisory committee, that the proposed art piece be located at the courtyard.

The location had been debated for several weeks prior, since it is relatively unusual – if not unprecedented – for a city commissioned work to be located on anything other than city-owned property.

Coun. Helen Fathers had suggested that it could be located at the corner of Russell Avenue and Finlay Street, but council later heard from staff that there was not enough city property there to accomodate the kind of work proposed.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin had also argued that – since the city is paying for the art – it should be located in an area of the hospital property providing higher visibility to the community at large.

At the May 14 meeting, he reiterated his theme, saying he supported a second location option that would place the art closer to the public walkway from North Bluff Road.

“I still think that art should be close to where people can see it. We’re only talking about the location…there’s no question that this is a worthy subject and this is going to get done. So are we talking about something that’s 20 feet away or 100 feet away from the sidewalk?”

But, at the same meeting, council also heard from PAH Foundation executive director Stephanie Beck, auxiliary president Lynne Quigley and Cornerstone Signage and Design’s Art Distasio, requesting that the art work be included in the re-worked courtyard, where donor-recognition commemorative bricks are being replaced with a new memorial.

“Upgrading this program aligns nicely with the proposed public art piece, as we had plans to renovate the courtyard, and (it) could create complimentary designs for both the new donor-recognition pieces and the proposed art-installation honouring the auxiliary,” Beck said.

“We believe renovating this space will attract even more visitors to the courtyard and will be an ideal spot to showcase the auxiliary and celebrate their contributions. It’s quiet and peaceful and close to the main hospital entrance and both extended-care pavilions.”

“The site will look less memorial and more open and inviting,” Distasio commented.

“We are honoured that the city… wishes to celebrate the auxiliary’s contributions to the community with this public piece of art ,” Quigley said.

“We are in favour of placing the piece in (the courtyard), where our volunteers will be able to enjoy it, and the piece will be in context with its surroundings,” she added.

“Between staff, volunteers, visitors, patients and residents, a great number of the White Rock population will be able to experience the tranqility of the new courtyard,” Beck noted, adding later that the space will not be touched by Fraser Health hospital expansion plans “in the conceivable future.”

“If we’re going to honour the auxiliary, let’s honour their wish,” said Sinclair, who noted that the city’s public art advisory committee also supported the courtyard location.

Baldwin provided the sole vote against the motion.

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