BIA discusses meeting over Blyth mural with North Huron staff
BY DENNY SCOTT
The ongoing saga of the artistic interpretation of the map of Blyth, commissioned by the Blyth Business Improvement Area (BIA), continued with representatives of North Huron meeting with the BIA.
The art installation, which was erected in the spring, took some North Huron Council members by surprise. Councillors took issue with the sign, and also received negative feedback from ratepayers regarding it, resulting in council wanting the issue investigated further. The BIA commissioned the installation with funding from Regional Tourism Organization 4 (RTO4). Noted artist Randy Jones created the actual art.
Demetri Makrakos, North Huron’s Economic Development Officer, and Community Engagement Co-ordinator Denise Lockie recently met with the BIA Sign Committee and discussed the numerous issues that had been reported regarding the art installation, giving the BIA a list of issues to address with the sign.
During the BIA’s June 30 meeting, Cat O’Donnell of the Wonky Frog briefed the rest of the BIA on the meeting, which was held on June 22, saying that some of the issues had already been addressed.
The committee, which included O’Donnell, local real estate company DEAMS co-owners Annie and David Sparling and Colleen Jordan of the Hotel Lux, addressed issues, including misspelled business names and the design of the banner at the bottom of the art installation.
Many of the issues, according to previous discussions, come from the fact that the installation, which includes an artistic interpretation of a map of the village, is installed on municipal ground and must, therefore, follow the rules of the municipality.
The North Huron representatives pointed out that the land acknowledgement statement on the sign wasn’t congruent with the township’s. The committee decided to use the shorter of the two statements the township uses, with David Sparling saying that everyone in the municipality should use the same acknowledgement. During the BIA meeting, the executive noted the committee had used the Blyth Festival’s acknowledgement, which is different from the township’s.
The group next addressed the misspelling of G.L Hubbard Rutabagas, which had already been fixed with a sticker.
The absence of any identification for Gypsy Lane was next addressed. While the road is on the sign, it wasn’t identified, which members of North Huron Council said was a concern. Lockie said that, because the sign is on town property, it’s up to council whether they want to include the street name. According to the minutes of the meeting, the BIA is understanding of the issue.
Some businesses and sites were also not part of the map, which, during a previous North Huron Council meeting, had some council members questioning the process behind the creation of the art installation.
The Howson and Howson structures on the east side of town, for example, weren’t included, however, O’Donnell said that the company is represented by the millstones under the flag posts illustrated near where the business is located. She said that discussions around the time of the creation of the art piece had pointed to it being difficult to fit a building the size of Howson and Howson’s plant on the map. After discussing the issue, O’Donnell suggested the committee come up with alternatives for the site and discuss the issue with the company.
North Huron Council members, during a previous council meeting, also pointed to the absence of the Blyth and District Community Centre as an issue. The minutes of the meeting suggested that the arena was represented by a gathering of people, and that there could be a sign added that says arena.
The banner across the bottom of the installation, which includes logos of supporting organizations and websites, also had a number of issues according to the minutes of the BIA sign committee meeting.
The first issue identified, according to the minutes, was that no website other than North Huron’s can be included, to adhere to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The group discussed options for linking the BIA website from the North Huron website, which North Huron staff will consider.
The logos included on the installation, including North Huron, RTO4 and the BIA, also needed to be changed. According to the minutes, the North Huron logo has to be the same size or larger than the other logos, so the banner area will be redesigned to match.
The group also discussed the process in place for the sign. While North Huron Council had approved a memorandum of understanding, the issues with the installation had council members say during a recent meeting that they felt out of the loop on the installation. As a result, the committee discussed options to fix the problem, from adding more oversight to the memorandum of understanding to having council explicitly state that the review of the design has to come to North Huron staff before any similar projects are undertaken.
Finally, the minutes say that the disparaging remarks made by some council members when the issue was discussed were not appreciated by the committee members and volunteers that worked on the project.
The minutes also stated that the artistic installation will be moved to a kiosk by the end of this year, and a more traditional map will be on the back of the kiosk. The kiosk, which will be 90 by 39 inches, is part of another project funded by RTO4.
The BIA executive reviewed the minutes of the meeting during its June 30 meeting and had several concerns about the installation and council’s response to it.
O’Donnell said that everyone is still going forward, and that it was a “great meeting” and said that Lockie would be reaching out to Jones directly to tell him the issues with the sign weren’t connected to his artwork.
“We did clarify it’s not a map,” she said. “People were to understand it’s an art installation.”
She said there was some debate about asking Jones to alter his work for one business to have more inclusion on the map, saying that the sign was never meant to be a “business directory” but an art installation. She said that, while changes could be made, she doesn’t know if there will be a cost involved for Jones to make alterations to the piece.
O’Donnell said that the kiosks, detailed above, were to be installed in the fall, which caused Gerrit Sepers of BRØD Bread and Pastry to ask if the BIA should move ahead with its own advertising initiatives in the interim.
“[Chair David Sparling] said we didn’t want to do things more than once,” he said referring to putting up advertising for local businesses. “However, the hope was [the kiosk] project would happen by the end of June or early July. If that’s not going to happen, is there something that can be done?”
He said the alternative is to copy other local businesses, which have used duct tape to direct people to the businesses at the south end of the community.
Councillor Kevin Falconer, North Huron Council’s representative on the BIA, asked how the sign was installed without approval from council, which was what some council members believed had happened. O’Donnell said that wasn’t the case, and that the municipality had always been a part of the discussion and was involved with the groundbreaking and unveiling of the sign. She said that Lockie claims there was a need for a draft to go to North Huron, however that step may have been missed.
O’Donnell also addressed the logo concerns outlined above, saying the focus is on Blyth, and not North Huron, because people were in the village. She went on to say that, if the largest contributors to the project were given the most space, the Blyth Printing Shop would have the biggest logo, and local volunteers would be next. To keep it simple, however, they fit the three aforementioned logos as they could on the bottom of the sign.
After some discussion, the BIA executive took no action as a result of the review of the minutes.