A funding request to support the latest mural proposed by Downtown Williams Lake BIA (DWLBIA) was deferred by Williams Lake City Council Tuesday night, Sept. 15 to allow time to develop a policy around what murals should look like in the lakecity.
The decision came following a mural approval and $5,000 funding request to paint an image of whales and hot air balloons over burned forests on the side of the building located at 29 Third Avenue South.
Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb didn’t mince words when he kicked off the discussion with council.
“It’s ugly,” Cobb muttered, his microphone picking up his voice loud and clear.
Cobb moved that the request be denied, noting he felt there needed to be a policy in place to determine the criteria for murals.
“I personally don’t like this mural,” Cobb said, adding he was under the impression that any mural that went up in Williams Lake at least had to represent something in the area whether that be historic or resource-based.
“I’m sorry but that picture doesn’t fit the criteria as far as I’m concerned.”
Cobb said he wouldn’t support spending the money, which has already been set aside in the 2020 budget, on the current design.
Coun. Ivan Bonnell noted that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but that he was in favour of developing a policy surrounding the murals.
“I knew when we saw this one it would raise some eyebrows.”
Both Bonnell and Coun. Jason Ryll said they wanted to maintain and foster a partnership with the DWLBIA.
“There are seven opinions whether we like the picture and none of us are right,” Ryll said.
Council, knowing they could be preventing the mural from getting done this year due to the cooler weather, voted unanimously to defer the decision to fund and support the mural until they meet with DWLBIA and a policy is in place.
In the letter penned to council, DWLBIA executive director Jordan Davis said the team of five, all-women artists consists of Mandee Beaulieu, Jazmyn Lyons, Brittany Murphy, Tiffany Jorgensen and Sarah Sigurdson.
“This is done with the intention of again, diversifying our art collection downtown as well as providing a great opportunity to continue to showcase local art. These artists have designed a beautiful piece of artwork that will make up our mural for this year and they will be painting the mural in September, weather permitting. This mural brings to light the reality of the fires on our City and of course, the newest issue that we have all been dealing with all over the world, and in our own community, Covid-19, which has had a huge impact on our downtown. This mural will show the tragedy of the fires, while showing the spectator the possibility and beauty of rising above this,” Davis noted in the request.
Earlier in the meeting, council supported 2021 funding of a cow moose mural downtown.
It didn’t take long after the meeting for some of the artists of the project to take to social media to air their frustrations.
As the discussion was ramping up online Wednesday, the artists announced the Williams Lake First Nation stepped forward to fund the mural.