Victoria council voted unanimously to move the large, tulip-themed art installation from Bastion Square to the Triangle Island at the intersection of Johnson Street, Pandora Avenue and Wharf Street.
City staff recommended the move as an alternative option to the contentious orca-surfboard art installation designed by former artist in residence Luke Ramsey and former Indigenous artist in residence Lindsay Delaronde. The orca project was initially proposed in 2017, but received public feedback for its price tag. Staff reported several third-party assessments pegged the price well above the $250,000 budget.
Alternatively, the Canoe Commerce piece in Bastion Square, designed by artist Illarion Gallant, will be moved to Triangle Island using funds from the Bastion Square Revitalization Association. The piece will then be replaced by a welcoming totem pole designed by Tsawout artist Tom Lafortune.
The 30-foot pole will feature several figures, including an elder designed to welcome visitors to the city. Songhees elders approved the installation of the pole, with the caveat that it must be near the water.
The cost of this with will be paid for by funds from Bastion Square market fees.
Councillors also voted to use the allotted $250,000 from the orca project to be put forward in a public competition for art that would use some of the remaining steel from the old Johnson Street Bridge. Up to $30,000 would be earmarked for the liability matters surrounding the steel, which is still caked with lead-infused paint.
Councillors were in favour of all of these suggestions.
“I think this is excellent work that will revitalize at least three or more public spaces,” said Coun. Jeremy Loveday.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps touted the report as “great , creative problem solving,” that was fiscally responsible.
Coun. Ben Isitt was happy to see the Commerce Canoe project moved, calling it out of scale and “jarring” in its present location.
Dates have not been set for when the move will take place.
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