Don Li-Leger and Cora Li-Leger look over some of the hundreds of volumes of outdated encyclopedias and other books they have collected for the Encyclopedia House project.

Don Li-Leger and Cora Li-Leger look over some of the hundreds of volumes of outdated encyclopedias and other books they have collected for the Encyclopedia House project.

Surrey art project gets mired in red tape

City requires working drawings and inspections for Don Li-Leger's Encyclopedia House

South Surrey artists Don and Cora Li-Leger may have just been declared Surrey Civic Treasures for their meaningful contributions to the art scene, but their latest art installation project is getting tied up in the city’s red tape.

For over a month, Don Li-Leger, who dreamed up the concept, has been collecting old encyclopedia sets – and other bound books of no commercial value – for what he is calling ‘Encyclopedia House’.

His plan is to use the heavy books – “really they’re just like bricks,” he says – to build a modest, but imaginatively crafted, eight-by-12-foot temporary structure.

He intended to have the art piece built in time to be part of the Newton Pop Up Art Walk, including the opening of the Z-inc collective art show Window Dressing – Cabinets of Curiosity on Sept. 12.

Rather than be a practical shelter, he said, the piece is intended to comment on issues of housing and homelessness and the irony of useless blocks of  ‘knowledge’ –  and provoke dialogue on society’s pressing need to meet genuine needs by recycling unused and discarded materials.

But Li-Leger said city staff seem to be missing the point of the installation, for which there is not yet a sanctioned location. At press time Tuesday, he was scheduled to meet with city staff to discuss a number of issues before the piece can be approved.

“They want to see engineer’s working drawings and they want to know about building inspections and fire inspections,” he said. “They say I must dot all the ‘i’s and cross all the ‘t’s.”

Li-Leger said while he might be able to provide a rough drawing of his idea, creating a working drawing would run counter to the improvisational spontaneity he is aiming at.

“It’s not going to be weather-proof; we’re not putting a washroom in,” he said. “It’s just about getting the dialogue happening.

“This is really a riff on the ‘zero-yen house’ that a Japanese architect created for homeless people – and we have a homeless problem. At the same time, we have all these books of knowledge that are completely outmoded – people don’t want to buy them or sell them and they’ll charge you for recycling them.”

“So many people are excited about this project,” said Cora Li-Leger, noting that it coincides with current Sources Community Resource Centre homelessness awareness initiatives including the Coldest Night of the Year Walk and Homelessness Partnering Strategy.

“I think my real problem is that I called it Encyclopedia House,” said Don Li-Leger, noting that his desire to locate the piece in Newton’s ‘Grove’ area – a frequent scene of artistic interventions organized with the Friends of the Grove group – has also meant greater scrutiny.

Until he finds out about the fate of the project, Don Li-Leger is still seeking donations of books which can be dropped off at the blue box behind Rotary Field House in South Surrey.

 

Just Posted

Councillor Doug Elford. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Elford to join Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society as a director

Fellow Safe Surrey Coalition Councillors Laurie Guerra, Mandeep Nagra and Allison Patton will be re-appointed to the board

A cyclist stops traffic to allow a gaggle of geese cross the road. (Tino Fluckiger photo)
White Rock man asks motorists to be mindful of wildlife after close call

Impatient motorists drives into oncoming traffic

Big Splash water park is located in Tsawwassen. (submitted photo)
Big Splash reopens Canada Day with changes to keep the water park ‘safe for everyone’

Executive Hotels & Resorts has owned and operated the attraction since 2017

Elgin Park Secondary students rally for climate change outside of their South Surrey in 2019. (Nick Greenizan photo)
City of Surrey set to host online climate-action panel

June 23 Zoom event to include speakers, question-and-answer period

(Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey council moves to reduce parking along rapid transit corridors

This also targets rental housing developments in Rapid Transit Areas

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, four deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Vancouver Giants will return to the ice on Oct. 8, hosting the Prince George Cougars at Langley Events Centre. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Vancouver Giants will renew division rivalry with Cougars when season resumes in October

First game on Langley Events Centre home ice since February of last year

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

Most Read