Galloping Goose Regional Trail users may soon be greeted by a colourful mural along the newly installed sound barriers at the McKenzie interchange.
During a Nov. 2 meeting, Saanich council voted unanimously in favour of moving forward with writing to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to request a public art mural on the sound barriers near the new highway interchange.
“This request is simple, it’s their wall” and it will continue to be tagged while it’s blank, Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff told Black Press Media.
She spoke out about graffiti appearing on the newly installed sound barriers in August and, after receiving numerous reports from residents about the graffiti cluttering the cement sound barriers, she went out to see for herself.
Brownoff, the former chair of the Saanich’s active transportation advisory committee, counted more than 30 tagged panels near Marigold Elementary School at the time and suggested bringing in muralists to purposefully paint the panels to discourage vandalism. She brought the concept to the committee in September and the group agreed to send the mural suggestion to council and request that Saanich write to the ministry about establishing “a multi-stakeholder committee to create the concept of a ‘mural celebrating our region’: our past and future, and active transportation as part of the McKenzie interchange project.”
The project is still in the brainstorming stage but Brownoff is encouraged by council’s support and the ideas coming in from the community. This “is really about placemaking,” she explained, adding that there’s been talk of involving local students for an educational component.
It’s “very exciting” to see this mural project move forward as it’s a “great initiative,” said Mayor Fred Haynes. The blank barrier “call out for this kind of use.”
He added that not only will it discourage tagging but with a “history of Saanich theme” it’s an opportunity to highlight the municipality’s rich past – from First Nation stewards of the land to early settlers to present residents – encourage active transportation and attract tourists.
He expects Saanich will wait to reach out to the ministry until the provincial election results are finalized and the new ministers have settled in.