It was encouraging to hear Vernon city council listened to the voices of Vernon residents, who want a better option than the mask project for murals for our city.
As I write this, there are 3,847 signatures against the mask mural project and 1,377 signatures on the petition supporting it. In other words, a pretty clear message from the people of our city.
This ratio also seems to be a good representation of the general population, as most voices are against this project when speaking to fellow residents and following discussion on social media.
I hope council will take this as a good sign of what the people want and not defer to the public consultation being done by the Vernon Public Art Gallery (VPAG) itself.
Dauna Kennedy of VPAG has made the gallery’s intentions known. As she stated, “…we have a short window to take this forward, bring it to life and have Vernon realize the many benefits to the economy, community, and culture.”
Having VPAG host the public consultation would be similar to the city asking Vernon Minor Hockey to do a public consultation on whether the residents of Vernon would like a new ice rink. It’s pretty clear what they would want and how they might frame the public input.
I reached out to the art gallery and asked if it would accept input online,or by telephone or email, any way that is easier than visiting the gallery in person.
It response to me was: “The Behind the Mask formal public consultation is now open. We encourage all Vernon residents to participate in this process and provide feedback. Please visit the gallery now until July 5, with extended hours: 10-6 weekdays and 10-4 Saturdays.”
In other words, no, you need to visit the gallery to participate.
I would encourage city council to listen to the people of Vernon (there’s a clear unbiased message from the competing petitions) who would like a better mural option than this mask project—which is better suited to an art gallery display. It’s great that it’s there and is generating discussion about mental health.
Our city deserves something bright and colourful, that brings warmth and beauty to our town and leaves people with a great impression of our awesome community.
Consider viewing online the beautiful murals in some of our surrounding communities (Kamloops, Lake Country, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Penticton) and let’s raise the bar high for something worthy of adorning our walls.