A proposed memorial art installation at Whiffin Spit Park had a rocky reception at a recent Sooke council meeting with some councillors comparing the design to a cross between Stonehenge and the Flintstones.
The whole thing started in June when council debated a policy that would allow for as many as five memorial plaques to be placed on park benches in Whiffin Spit Park.
The concept did not sit well with the council and it was decided that an art installation, to which plaques could be attached, would be a better option.
Administration issued a request for proposals that garnered no responses causing them to reissue that proposal call. That second attempt resulted in a single response from Stewart Monumental Works Ltd.
But that art installation design raised eyebrows and had some councillors questioning the entire concept.
“For $45,000, to me, I would rather toss the whole thing than spend money on what looks like a pile of rocks,” Coun. Megan McMath said.
It was a position that was echoed by Coun. Tony St. Pierre who observed the design was not to his taste and didn’t reflect the geology of the region.
“I don’t think it’s particularly wonderful for the price tag attached,” he said.
Coun. Jeff Bateman agreed.
“I showed the design to friends who said that the structure reminded them of a mixture of Stonehenge and the Flintstones,” Bateman said.
But not everyone was completely negative on the design and Coun. Ebony Logins spoke in defence of the concept, invoking [former councillor] Brenda Parkinson’s memory and saying that it had been Parkinson who had come up with the inspiration for the structure.
“It’s OK if you don’t like it, but it would do what you want,” said Logins.
But it was Coun. Al Beddows who had the room chuckling with his own observation about the collection of faux boulders.
“I sort of like it. It does look like Stonehenge, but I’ve been to Stonehenge and I kinda liked that, too,” Beddows said.
But the concept was thrown into question after Mayor Maja Tait explained that the design had been vetted by the Sooke Program of the Art and noted Lorraine Pawlivsky-Love, a member of the SPA committee, was in the audience.
Pawlivsky-Love was invited to the microphone to offer her opinion on the recommended memorial.
Those comments were a bit unexpected.
“This [structure] will be in an area where children will be climbing all over it,” Pawlivsky-Love said.
“My concern is safety. I see broken legs and broken limbs and I think this needs a little more thought.”
After a bit more discussion, the only other positive observation emerged from the administration when they pointed out that the structure, (at $41,900) had come in under the a$45,000 budget.
That was not enough to move the council and staff were directed to explore some design alternatives and report back at a future meeting.
At the same meeting, the Council did approve plans for the long-awaited washroom facility at Whiffin Spit Park. The septic vault and water fountain will be installed at the park later this year at a cost of $21,042.
The design will be similar to the washroom installed at John Phillips Memorial Park this summer.