Surrey man says $110K for public art is ‘bad way to spend money’

The City of Surrey has put out a call for artists to create artwork in Fraser Heights and Port Kells

SURREY — A Surrey man said “it’s gross” the City of Surrey is spending $110,000 on public art projects.

Bryson Sask said he was shocked by the amount when he stumbled across the call for artists on the BC Bid website, bcbid.gov.bc.ca.

“That’s pretty big,” he told the Now-Leader. “I don’t think we need something like that. Beautify the parks, put money into policing or the drug problem, there’s a way better way to use that money.”

He called it a “gross misuse” of taxpayer money.

On May 15, the City of Surrey posted an Artist Call for Expressions of Interest for a public art project with a budget of $20,000 for a mosaic project at the Port Kells Hall, at Harvie Road and 88th Avenue.

“For the $20,000, why not run a contest with school children?” wondered Sask. “To me that’s a way to involve the community and you still get the same end result.”

Then, the city posted another call on May 31 for a public art project outside the Fraser Heights rec centre, at 160th Street and 105th Avenue, with a budget of $90,000 that would pay for artist fees, design, materials, insurance and all engineering expenses including fabrication, delivery, installation, travel and taxes.

In its call for artists for the rec centre piece, the City of Surrey states it “will serve as an iconic landmark and a gateway feature into the Fraser Heights neighbourhood.”

In consultation, residents of Fraser Heights recommended values of “community, diversity and nature” to inspire artists.

Click here to see the full Artist Call for Expressions of Interest.

The funds allocated to this piece were originally for artwork in the middle of a traffic circle, but the city “moved on from that one,” Surrey’s art services manager Sheila McKinnon said in January. This, after the proposal proved controversial when some residents questioned why that amount would be spent on traffic circle art.

But the project wasn’t cancelled. The city instead changed gears after meeting with area residents, who expressed a desire for public art at the local rec centre.

Councillor Judy Villeneuve defended the amount of money to be spent on the artwork at the time.

“In the long run, people will cherish such examples of public art in this city,” she told the Now-Leader last October. “It’s all part of building a complete city, and studies show that. Public art gives people pride – pride in where they live. I hardly ever hear a negative comment about the public art in the city, and the cost is never put in context. Developers contribute to it, and they also pay for road improvements, sewers, infrastructure. It’s all part of making a city better.”

But Sask is not impressed.

“Just as a taxpayer, I know there’s a place for art,” he said. “But this is a bad way to spend money.”

Sask said he has emailed the purchaser listed on the bid, and has launched a complaint on the city’s website.

Expressions of Interest for the Fraser Heights project are due on July 16 and are due June 5 for the Port Kells artwork.

amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Just Posted

Lack of facilities in Surrey and Delta forces cricket league to look elsewhere

Surrey Councillor Bruce Wayne said that the demand always exceeds supply to a certain degree

B.C. BUDGET: Fare freeze, free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

Multi-vehicle crash snarls traffic in Surrey Tuesday afternoon

No reports of injuries so far in collision at 67th Avenue and 152nd Street

Surrey Board of Trade praises ‘balanced’ B.C. budget, but wants an LRT commitment

‘What we need for Surrey is certainty,’ says SBOT boss of provincial commitment to light rail plan

ZYTARUK: All for five minutes, and five minutes for all

Is Surrey city council putting an egg timer on democracy?

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

Canucks blow three goal lead, lose to Avalanche in overtime

Vancouver struggled on the penalty kill, as Colorado scored all five goals on the powerplay

Widow of avalanche victim sues Golden lodge operator

A woman from Alberta is suing guides, their mountain guide association and the lodge operator for negligence

BC BUDGET: NDP hope to nix court delays with $15 million cash influx

Union says funding could stop sheriffs from leaving for higher paid jobs

Cattlemen urge B.C. to prevent erosion caused during 2017 wildfire season

Other concerns are fencing restoration and repair, and a lack of feed for cattle.

Patrick Brown’s Tory leadership bid fate looms

Brown’s bid to for Tory leadership to be decided on Wednesday

Alberta shrugs off B.C. legal challenge on wine ban

The potential fine Alberta faces for violating free trade rules according to economic development minister

Yelling vulgar slur at reporter not a crime says judge

Judge rules ‘vulgar’ slur against reporter was not a public disturbance

Most Read