Port Moody could become the next Chemainus if it encourages the painting of murals on building exteriors, rather than charging fees for their creation, says one city councillor.
Dozens of outdoor murals helped put the small Vancouver Island town “on the map,” said Coun. Zoe Royer, an artist herself.
“If we start to broadcast we welcome murals and support artists through the process, that would be extraordinary.”
Tuesday, her colleagues on council took a step in that direction when they unanimously rejected a staff recommendation that a $243 permit fee be charged for new murals in the city.
Instead, they instructed staff to come up with ways to encourage the creation of murals on exterior walls and ensure artists are paid, while still implementing a process to determine that designs and materials used are appropriate.
Mayor Rob Vagramov said the city should be welcoming murals, but a permit fee would likely have the opposite effect.
Coun. Steve Milani agreed, saying the city charging money for the creation of art seemed “excessive” for the self-proclaimed City of the Arts.
“Bureaucracy and art sounds like a bad partnership,” he said.
But Devin Jain, Port Moody’s manager of cultural services, said the fee would cover the city’s costs to review proposed murals, advise artists on access issues and safety requirements as well as log the projects into its public art inventory so they can be promoted to visitors and residents.
City manager Tim Savoie said the proposed fee was likely a bargain for the staff time and resources involved. He added murals in the city are currently unregulated, as long as they aren’t advertising signs.
Coun. Hunter Madsen agreed the creations should have “some guardrails on because we may get things that are questionable for the neighbourhood.”
He suggested one way to incentivize murals might be an annual contest with cash prizes for the winners.