Douglas Cardinal, a world famous architect, was in Terrace recently.
He presented a slide show of his work, including the Museum of Man in Hull, Quebec, which I believe is his most famous Canadian project.
The presentation took place in the Northwest Community College longhouse where the acoustics are so poor, it was extremely difficult to follow the dialogue.
No person explained Mr. Cardinal’s presence or the purpose of the meeting.
Three members of a local first nations band opened the event. In full regalia, for about half an hour, they performed dances, drums and prayers.
Mr. Cardinal, it appeared to me, was in the process of selling his architectural skills to a largely non-native audience. The entire meeting seemed to be steeped in whispers, innuendo and hidden agendas.
This event brings about many questions. Who arranged Mr. Cardinals’s attendance? Who paid for his travel and other out-of-pocket expenses? What was the real purpose of his sales pitch? Is the city, a native band, or some other community group employing this Ottawa firm? What is the project this mystery group has in mind? A site or project was not mentioned at the presentation. Someone needs to come clean and explain to the Terrace taxpayers their intentions.
By the way, who is the Skeena Diversity Society? What is their mandate? Which tax pocket pays their bills? I become very nervous with quiet, unelected committees who appear to shield council from their duties to the taxpayers.
Mr. Cardinal is a great architect with a specific style. However, does Terrace, at this point, need an Eiffel Tower or a Taj Mahal to bring out “The Spirit of Terrace,” whatever that means.
Someone out there seems anxious to break ground with silver shovels and taxpayer dollars.
Are we headed towards a multimillion dollar project while my street’s city flagged pothole remains unrepaired for the past two months?
The city has apparently created a Co-op property task force. It is now obvious that mayor and council are not interested in selling the site as previously claimed as a reason for demolition.
The total cost of the Co-op lands to date must be in the area of $1.5 million, which council has never disclosed in detail or included lost taxes.
A dramatic edifice by an Ottawa architect, for an undisclosed project on taxpayer lands seems highly inappropriate. If Terrace planners are eager to enhance the city in a major way, there are many other options. One such element would be a walkway along the north shore of the Skeena River. This pathway would extend from Ferry Island west along the river, connecting to the millennium trail.
All great cities, London, Paris, New York, have embraced their rivers with public spaces, that over time, define their communities.
A close example is the Stanley Park seawall. With vision, purpose and open dialogue, Terrace could commence to do the same.
Terrace, to date, ignores the river as a value to its citizens, except for the outfall from the sewage settlement ponds. A Skeena River linear parkway, in time, would increase the adjacent area land values and subsequent taxes. This walkway loop could be a step to uniting the south side with the horse show area. It could be a very green development with the river used for heating and cooling in future buildings. What a great place for seniors’ housing, a restaurant, boat launch, city hall or public park, to name a few. Walkers, cyclists, skiers, fishers from the youngest citizen to the oldest would utilize such a development. It’s time for the Terrace area to embrace the river as the greatest natural asset it surely is.
I believe the Co-op property, adjacent to the coal and container trains should be sold and the proceeds used to commence the Skeena River Walkway.
We don’t need an Ottawa international design celebrity to do this project. The millennium walkway planners or those that designed the new entrance to George Little Park will do just fine.
Hopefully, there is some like-minded person or group who will take up this challenge and avoid some obscure hidden project fostered by unknown persons.