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White Rock welcome contest sparks questions

  - File photo
— image credit: File photo

Recommendations around the City of White Rock's Gateway project sparked tensions between two councillors recently.

Council last week was asked to approve a budget for the project – aimed at coming up with a design for the city's main entranceway – and have staff prepare the competition package in digital format.

The Feb. 4 discussion became heated when Coun. Louise Hutchinson suggested that due process had not been followed in the lead-up to the recommendations.

She described them as "a little, the-cart-before-the-horse," and cited ongoing efforts to come up with a plan for the city's town centre.

"I'm not sure that this council has fully accepted the study plan," she said. "There's a lot of red flags that jumped out at me for the way this was done."

Coun. Larry Robinson, who sits on the city's public art advisory committee, swiftly fired back.

"I'm sorry Coun. Hutchinson, perhaps you should read your agendas," he said. "Every step, we followed policy.

"The public art committee has been working on this process since last spring. I don't know if the cart's before the horse, but the horse is out of the barn."

The city last month invited designs for a multi-functional structure at Johnston Road and North Bluff Road, with $10,000 to go to the creator of the winning submission.

Art schools across Canada have been notified of the competition, Robinson said, and the city's town-centre guidelines will be included in the design packages, with four possible schematics.

"We wanted a design of a structure that was flexible enough… that (it) can be adapted throughout White Rock," regardless of what plans for the town centre look like, he said.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin agreed the project is in the budget and has been approved.

"It has gone before council and we have discussed it," he said.

Council voted unanimously (with Couns. Helen Fathers and Al Campbell absent) to approve the committee's recommendations: that the overall Gateway project budget be set at $150,000 and that the communications co-ordinator by asked to prepare the competition package in digital format. A third recommendation, to have staff explore the possibility of establishing an endowment fund to fund art projects in White Rock, also carried.

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