Public art, while beautiful, does not make a good city entry sign, a majority of those on Kelowna council have decided.
On Monday, council struck down a proposed sign at the city’s northern boundary along Highway 97 after deeming it leaned more artistic than welcoming. The previous sign was taken down more than two years ago.
Entitled “Imagine” and envisioned by artist Ted Fullerton, the work would’ve seen 1.2-metre tall letters with 10 abstract human-Esque figures placed around the lettering. The sign would’ve sat along the western side of the highway, just north of the Kelowna International Airport.
Council ended up voting down the staff-recommended art piece in a six-to-three vote, with several citing a lack of the city’s identity represented in the piece.
“I like the sign … my first thought is this does not say ‘Kelowna’ to me,” said Coun. Mohini Singh.
While appreciating the need for public art throughout the city, Coun. Loyal Wooldridge said he’s not sure the welcome sign is the right place for it.
“When people come to our city for the first time, we want to welcome them, not necessarily evoke some sort of emotion.”
Coun. Gail Given, who along with Mayor Colin Basran and Coun. Ryan Donn, was part of the supportive minority, suggested the sign could be reconsidered as an installation in City Park.
“It’s a beautiful piece of art that would be a great selfie option.”
Given said having a public art installation as a welcome sign would make a unique statement about the City of Kelowna.
Mayor Basran said the sign is indicative of a city that is moving away from its agricultural and tourism roots.
“We are a city of the future; that’s what we’re building.”
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