A controversial – and pricey – public art piece proposed for Empire Fields in Hastings Park might be approved by the Vancouver Parks Board on September 28. The piece was supposed to be approved back in May, but an outcry lead to a deferral and opening the floor to a public consultation.
The art display titled “Home and Away” will comprise of two bleacher-style staircases, one dark blue and one light blue, that would double as additional seating for up to 200 people or more. The cost for the piece would be in the ball park of $450,000, and would be funded by the city’s Public Art Program.
The installation will measure nearly 15 metres high and 30 metres long.
An artwork presentation on July 16 to 35 people was successful, according to the document released by the Parks Board detailing their work since May 25 in consulting the public on the piece.
“Participants were interested and comments were supportive,” reads the document.
Another 200 people who attended the Empire Fields official opening joined in a discussion with public art staff. According to the document, up to 93 per cent of people were supportive, were curious, or had no comment on the piece or the potential cost.
Based on this, the Parks Board is recommending to go ahead with the installation of “Home and Away.”
“‘Home and Away’ was inspired by a significant piece of Vancouver’s sport and recreation history, and will be a striking and engaging addition to the diverse active recreation features at Empire Fields and Plateau Park,” states the Parks Board.
An architectural collaborative called Lead Pencil Studio has been working on the design since 2012. The project is meant to pay homage to the ski jump run that used to be housed in Hastings Park and to the bleachers that were torn down in the old Empire Stadium. It’s also meant to evoke the feeling of the famous wooden roller coaster at Playland.
The interactive art piece might also include a “playful slide exit.” The piece would be built later this year, and installation is expected for 2016.
This isn’t the first time the Parks Board has received flack for public art installations. A 2013 sculpture of a poodle on Main Street caused controversy when it was announced that it would cost the federal government, Translink, and the city $97,600 to install.