The Salton Road pedestrian and cycling bridge, which opened last year, is one of many new public facilities to include public pieces of art. Abbotsford News file photo

Panels to decide on public art in Abbotsford

Staff say 2011 policy lacked transparency in selection process

The selection of public art in Abbotsford will now be undertaken in part by panels convened each time a new project is in the works.

The city currently has a policy to spend one per cent of the budget of any new facility on public art – up to a maximum of $300,000. But that public art policy, which was adopted in 2011 and will be revised soon, is neither transparent nor clear on how smaller projects less than $75,000 are selected, a recent staff report says.

To fix those issues while a new policy is created, staff and council have developed temporary rules that will see panels convened for every public art project financed by the city.

Panels will include three or five voting members including a “combination of representatives from the city, project stakeholders, community representatives and/or art professionals.”

RELATED: New pedestrian and cycling bridge opens to public

The new interim process says community/art representatives will comprise one of three, or two of five seats on every project. The rest would be from the city/project stakeholders. The report technical advisors like architects and engineers would also be consulted to provide expert insight.

Those panels will rate submissions and recommend one for the city to select.

Staff say panel members could receive an honorarium depending on time demands.

Mayor Henry Braun, though, suggested the city carefully review any such payment to panel members.

“That would be a policy change that would have implications on many other committees,” Braun said. “I can think of many, many people who have spent many many hours giving back time to the community. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that, but we should understand the consequences of that policy position.”

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