“I question the construction of two beacons…” Andy Wolff

Waterfront Art work
Artist's rendition of how the artwork tower will look.
THUNDER BAY – Special to NNL – With an $8.6 million dollar cost overrun on the waterfront, I question the construction of two beacons that will feature LED lights flashing Morse code of local stories and poetry. The cost of this project will be $904,000.

Aside from most members of city council, I have never heard anything positive about this “art” from even the strongest proponent of waterfront development. I suppose if I were to put a positive spin on this project; it makes Victoriaville Mall, the Water St. overpass and Pagoda, look good in comparison. For that matter, it makes almost anything recently developed down on the waterfront look good in comparison. What worries me is what project will make this monstrosity look good?

It’s interesting to note, electrical and foundation piling had already begun even though council only discussed it the previous week. A number of questions need to be asked. Would the city lose the federal government stimulus funding for all the construction projects done there, since this project would be incomplete? Why does administration put something before council, when the project has already started? Wasn’t the city’s waterfront architect’s role to control additional costs? It seems to me, administration is directing city council on how this project should proceed, rather than the other way around.

The city’s share for this project is $357,143. With that amount of money, we could have musical concerts every night in the summer. Would this not attract a lot more people down to the waterfront? For what it’s worth, here is how each member of city council voted on this project. The result was 8-4 in favour of this project. I paraphrased choice comments some members of council made, voting on this project.

WHO VOTED YES

Iain Angus – Councillor At Large
Ken Boshcoff – Councillor At Large
Rebecca Johnson – Councillor At Large – “Art is in the eye of the beholder. Although I don’t like to spend extra money, the installation is good for the community”.
Andrew Foulds – Current River Ward Councillor
Brian McKinnon – Red River Ward Councillor
Mark Bentz – Northwood Ward Councillor
Trevor Guertuga – McIntyre Ward Councillor
Paul Pugh – McKellar Ward Councillor – “Good grief! But that’s the function of art. It makes you think.”

NO

Keith Hobbs – Mayor – “I’d rather buy two trash compactors for the landfill site! I don’t want people to hate this.”
Larry Hebert – Councillor At Large
Linda Rydholm – Neebing Ward Councillor – “I would rather have nothing, than something I’m ashamed of out there”.
Joe Virdiramo – Westfort Ward Councillor – “We have a piece of angle iron that’s going to go up 65 feet and it’s going to rust and it’s going to have lights on it”.

NOT PRESENT
Aldo Roberto – Councillor At Large

Andy Wolff

Andy Wolff ran in the last civic election in the Current River Ward. He has created a Facebook page and website where votes taken at City Council will be recorded.

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