Douglas W. Judson
Council Rejects Request for Letter of Support for Public Art Project
At Council’s meeting on Monday, March 14, it declined a request from Eric Keast, an Anishinaabe artist looking for a letter of support to assist him in applying for a grant to place a public art installation in our community.
After the Town spent over 2 months processing this request, all 6 other members of Council voted against it. In our meeting on Monday, it was suggested that the Town should have a public art policy before moving forward with such things.
(Sound familiar? In 2021, Council decided we needed a road renaming policy before we could rename Colonization Road. Why do requests require special policies whenever they concern Indigenous matters? Certainly, no special policy was required when the mermaid sculpture was placed at the Marina.)
Mr. Keast did not ask for any financial contribution from the Town. He asked for support to share his gifts with the community. There were some minor conditions required, as part of the grant program he was applying to.
Why does Council routinely accept staff recommendations at face value to say no to good things that members of the public offer for nothing? For example, in April 2019, Council denied a request from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 29 to paint the crosswalk in front of their building. In June 2019, Council denied a request from the Voyageur Lions Club to place a can recycling depot at the Sorting Gap Marina. In February 2022, Council denied a request from Best for Kitty to provide space at the municipal pound for overflow pet shelter space.
Mr. Keast’s request is the most recent example of saying no and insisting on having a special policy created before Council acts on a simple request that would benefit the community. In some of the other examples cited above, Council directed that a special policy be developed, after which none was created.
While I cannot speak on behalf of nor bind the municipality, I have personally provided Mr. Keast a letter of support committing my assistance to find him a suitable location for his project, should it move forward.