Heritage fountain worth investment

The Italian fountain represents a significant, one-of-a-kind piece of cultural heritage.

By investing in the restoration of Nanaimo’s Italian fountain, the city would be putting money where its mouth is.

Nanaimo city staff members are looking into design plans to restore the centennial fountain to its former glory, but say there isn’t enough funding committed yet to do the work. They anticipate needing public donations to put the water feature on the path to recovery.

More than 50 years after the city took custody of the community-built fountain, it has fallen into disrepair. The concrete wall has started to crumble, electrical work is corroded, pumps have failed and underwater lights no longer work.

The city considered taking out the fountain from the park at Port Place shopping centre – but opted to rehabilitate it because of the heritage value.

It’s a good choice, especially in the wake of the city’s new draft cultural plan.

The City of Nanaimo recently released a plan to enrich and preserve arts and culture, recognizing the sector is key to building pride of place and momentum in the local economy.

The Italian fountain represents a significant, one-of-a-kind piece of cultural heritage – and to tear it out or fail to invest in its rehabilitation would mean the city isn’t acting on the goals of its own plan.

Fifty-five years ago more than 150 volunteers from the Italian community came together to build the centennial fountain in celebration of the province’s 100th birthday. It would take five years for the fountain to be ready to gift to the city. In the meantime, the Italian community held fundraising picnics, collected donations and solicited local businesses for supplies to build the hand-crafted water feature. They quarried their own rock from Yellow Point, carved the fish and designed a colourful mosaic with tile imported from Mexico.

The Italian community gave a gift of labour and public artwork to better Nanaimo. Today, the fountain is considered a one-of-a-kind water feature and local artifact. It symbolizes everything we want to conserve.

But according to Ian Blackwood, the city’s manager of facility maintenance and construction, without repairs soon, the fountain will no longer run because “everything is so corroded.”

The laundry list of mechanical, electrical and esthetic issues presents an opportunity for the city to follow through on its cultural plan by investing in a piece of Nanaimo’s cultural heritage. And it should invest, because until now it appears that the municipality has dropped the ball on maintaining the centennial fountain. It hasn’t reached this state of disrepair because of age alone.

As a cultural resource, the city should have done more to ensure it remained structurally sound. If the city had invested in annual upkeep, like fixing failed pumps or protecting electrical work, it wouldn’t have reached a state of being such a maintenance headache, city staff members considered removing it entirely. At the very least, if the municipality recognized the fountain was starting to fail because of poor past upkeep or age, it should have planned to set money aside to do future upgrades. There was reportedly $15,000 slated for fountain work, which was used to do the study and design work for rehabilitation. Early estimates to rehabilitate the fountain is pegged at $250,000.

Moving forward, let’s not only rally donations to save a local landmark, but see the city carry out some of the goals of its budding cultural plan by funding a good portion of the project. It’s important that city officials show they’re prepared to act on their cultural strategy – and for residents to ensure that they do.


Just Posted

According to a staff report, Regional District of Nanaimo has seen some $13.6 million in grant applications approved between Jan. 1 and May 15. (News Bulletin file)
Close to $14 million in money granted to RDN in first half of year

Successful grants include more than $4 million for transit service in Regional District of Nanaimo

A section of the rail corridor on Vancouver Island. (Black Press file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Put rail trail right overtop of the tracks

Removing tracks would be a horrendous expense, says letter writer

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Most Read