Editorial: Art purchase long overdue

Public art offers many benefits to the community, its residents and visitors

Municipal councils are faced with myriad requests for financial support and the District of Oak Bay is no different. We elect the mayor and councillors to listen to what’s important to their constituents and to address what is required of the municipality – think sewage treatment – and with that information, strike a balance between our needs and our wants.

What we would like to have, what we must have  and what we can afford.

Part of that assessment includes what different proposals bring to the municipality – the value added.

It’s in that context councillors made the right decision in committing $4,600 of nearly $31,000 of surplus funds generated from an extra-busy filming year to purchase the municipality’s first permanent art piece. The town had previously committed $9,300 and supporters had raised another $9,700 toward the purchase.

Oak Bay is a community of artists and art lovers, witnessed by the continuing popularity of events like the spring and fall studio tours and the Bowker Creek Brush Up. Temporary art installations along the Avenue and in strategic Oak Bay locations have similarly delighted residents and visitors alike for the last two summers.

In this context, the permanent addition of art to the Oak Bay streetscape has been a long time coming. Victoria has long welcomed public art pieces, Langford has a series of sculptures dotted throughout the municipality and the town of Sidney’s Sculpture Walk adds a unique element to its oceanfront.

These features add much to the livability of a region, the acknowledgement that where we live is important to us. In the case of artist Chris Paul’s Salish Sea sculpture, now permanently in place by the Oak Bay Marina, it also forges a connection with local First Nations who have long made their home here.

From a financial perspective, art – and an attractive community generally – is also a draw for visitors who are encouraged to come explore and spend their dollars while doing so. It’s also part of what makes Oak bay attractive to new families looking for a place to settle down.

While some will undoubtedly question the wisdom of allocating municipal revenue to Oak Bay’s first art purchase, we believe it’s a move whose time has come. In fact, it’s long overdue.