Mid-Sun President’s Message – November

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Recently, a sculptural light display was added to the diverging diamond interchange at Sun Valley Boulevard and Macleod Trail. It really looks great at night, when the lights can be fully appreciated. This installation was the latest offering of the city’s Public Art Policy, and one of the policy’s more tasteful pieces. Though the Public Art Policy has offered a way of livening up our public spaces, too often the art pieces it has produced are outrageously expensive, needlessly obtuse in meaning and appearance, and out of step with the communities they are built in.

So, how do you do it better? I won’t claim to have all the answers for fixing this policy, but in developing the fence art project along Sun Valley Boulevard, discussed more extensively later in this issue, I wanted to avoid making the same mistakes as the much bigger art projects in our city.

Hence, we made a simple project, based on community ideas, using local artists and implemented by residents. It turned out great! Reflecting on this experience, I wonder what other creative projects we could have in our community, and I am not the only one thinking about this.

Just as many people are surprised to learn the roots of our suburban community are as old as any part of Calgary, in developing the fence art, I was surprised to learn how many artists we have living in our area. In the last few months, I have spoken with residents who are graphic designers, painters, textile artists, muralists, and cartoonists. All our artists represent a creative potential that could be tapped to enhance the neighbourhood.

Besides having the resources for these projects, I also sense there is an appetite for them. This past summer, a group of us built a few sandcastles at the lake, beginning with Slurpee cups and eventually bringing in molds and sculpting tools. We had fun, and the lake guests seemed to enjoy what we made. One neighbour even remarked that it was good to see some creativity in the community. So, to the lakes, I suggest holding sandcastle competitions or hosting sand sculpture displays. It could be a great way of utilizing our unique resources in a new way.

The idea of getting a mural on our community centre also seemed to excite a lot of residents, so it will be worth considering once our new exterior is finished. Other residents have bemoaned that all the events in Calgary seem to be downtown. I wonder if we could host more of them? Perhaps not in the more residential parts of our community, which most of us enjoy exactly the way they are, but in other parts of the area that could benefit from new uses.

The unused, ignored, and hidden parts of our community present a particular challenge. We have office buildings that mostly empty out once work hours are over, requiring surveillance to keep them safe. Other sites, like the old Midnapore Hall on Bannister Road, have sat unused for so long that they attract squatters, rot and vandalism. Our residents have shown a great deal of interest in keeping our neighbourhoods safe, and a critical part of that will be looking after all parts of them. It comes back to “activating spaces”, which was the theme of ActivateYYC, the program behind the fence art.

The need to activate spaces was recently brought up for a sports field on Midridge Drive, by the Lacombe Care Centre. There have been virtually no bookings on the site in the last year, and the city is wondering what to do with it. What kind of park could it become? There will be more consultations on this park in the future. Deciding what to do with it will be part of a bigger discussion, where we decide what we want in our area, and what kind of community we want to live in.

Midnapore and Sundance are great communities. What can we do to make them even better? I have given some of my own ideas on this, let me know what yours are.

 

-Mark Schmidt

President, Mid-Sun Community Association

[email protected]