The City of Nanaimo will now be paying twice as much for a new 50-foot totem pole at Maffeo Sutton Park.
Earlier this year, city councillors unanimously voted to spend $50,000 to have a totem pole by carver Noel Brown of Snuneymuxw and Kwagulth First Nations installed at Maffeo Sutton Park, and at a finance and audit committee meeting July 21, councillors agreed to double that contribution. The Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre is also providing $51,000 from Canadian Heritage, Mosaic Forest Management and Herold Engineering.
“What we’ve seen through the first half of 2021 is the design process, the discussions, the realization (of) what the welcome pole encompasses in regard to height, diameter and then location,” said Art Groot, director of facilities and parks operations, in his presentation to councillors. “And so as a result of those details being somewhat finalized, the realization is that there’s a bit of a funding shortfall.”
According to a city report, the additional $50,000 is needed to cover the custom construction of the pole’s base, the raising and installation of the pole and “contingency items.” The cost is based on pricing from local construction firms.
At the meeting, councillors also agreed with Groot’s recommendation to have the totem pole installed at the park’s Spirit Square, the current location of the sculpture Breaching Orca by artist Carl Sean McMahon. The staff report said Breaching Orca will be moved, possibly to Neck Point Park.
After some discussion about funding sources, councillors agreed to direct $50,000 from the Strategic Infrastructure Reserve toward the project.
“I’m happy to support it, recognizing that it’s an additional cost that we did not originally anticipate, but I think well worthwhile,” Coun. Ian Thorpe said.
Mayor Leonard Krog said he’s “quite excited” to see the pole go up.
“Fifty thousand dollars to any individual in Nanaimo is a lot of money. It’s not a lot of money, however, in the context of our total budget,” he said. “But the value we receive from this in terms of the necessary goodwill and the work towards reconciliation, I think, far outweighs any monetary cost.”
The pole was originally planned to be unveiled on June 21 to coincide with National Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The report said the goal is now for the pole to be raised in September.