The McDonald Park Neighbourhood Association in Kamloops is fundraising to install two new murals on the outside of the park’s washroom and change room buildings, in the hope it will help deter vandalism.
McDonald Park, located in the southern Interior city’s North Shore neighbourhood, has had challenges with vandalism, loitering, drug use and other “less than desirable activity,” said association member Sarah Johnstone.
“We’ve been looking at creative ways to also help deal with that,” he said. “This was just a way to partially clean up the buildings.”
The association looked to the City of Victoria as an example of where murals have had a positive effect on parks, said Johnstone.
“We want to do anything we can to keep bringing positive elements to this park, because it’s so fantastic.”
The neighbourhood association has hired artist Kelly Wright, who painted the Blue Grizzly mural near Seymour Street and Third Avenue among others, to paint the murals.
They expect it will cost around $20,000 for the whole process, including labour and materials. So far, they have raised just just over half of that amount, with the help of a grant from the city.
“We really want to encourage more foot traffic, more people here to enjoy local art and to help just keep the park safe and secure for everyone who uses it,” said Johnstone.
Both murals will feature wildlife that is found in the area, artist Kelly Wright told Daybreak Kamloops’ Jennifer Chrumka.
The change room building will have a big, long mural featuring a river and a forest scene with lots of animals, including white-tailed deer, elk, wolves, a grizzly bear and moose.
“I think it’ll bring a lot of colour to the park,” said Wright.
Meanwhile, the mural on the bathroom building’s wall will feature bees, because Kamloops is a bee city, meaning it has committed to doing as much as it can to create a healthy ecosystem for bees in the area.
“I’ll try to incorporate all the different species of bees and some fossils and add some flowers in there for colour,” he said.
Making ‘ugly’ buildings attractive
Johnstone hopes the murals will make the park a more attractive place.
“When you take a look at the buildings as they exist right now … they have to be some of the ugliest elements of this park. They’re just cinder block buildings, beige and ugly,” said Johnstone.
“There’s really nothing to look at. So I think just from a total aesthetic beautification part, it’s going to make a massive difference.”
The North Shore neighbourhood, which is a mix of businesses and homes, as well as a number of social service providers, has been undergoing a revitalization process, she said.
“I think it’s just something that adds a great element. I think all kids should have the ability to see public art.”
The south side of the city already has some public art projects in the works, including a $166,000 project to create a mosaic on the outside of a downtown parkade.
“It’s time for the North Shore to have its own awesome piece of public art,” said Johnstone.
Work is expected to begin on the murals in September.