Mayor Nenshi on "Bowfort Towers"

Post Date: Thursday, August 10, 2017

There's been much discussion about piece of public art that is being installed as part of the $71.7 million Trans Canada Highway / Bowfort Road NW Interchange project. The following is Mayor Naheed Nenshi's statement about this project and his support for changes to the way public art is selected at The City of Calgary:

"When I heard about the Bowfort Towers last week, I have to admit that my first thought was 'just once, can't it be a statue of a historical figure on a horse', but I don't get to decide that.

"For the past few days, I’ve been listening intently to this debate.

"I understand that City Administration followed all the applicable policies. The artist was chosen from an open competition by a panel of seven people, which includes six citizen volunteers. In accordance with the City's Indigenous Policy Framework, engagement with the Indigenous community was undertaken with a Blackfoot traditional knowledge keeper who is an expert in archeology and culture. Our Indigenous protocols are not about politician to politician consultation, rather they are about engagement with the traditional knowledge keepers as recommended by the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee.

"But I want to figure out how we wound up with art that many people don't like. The changes we made in 2014 to our Public Art Policy were designed to get more public input, but clearly it hasn't worked and we need to do better.

"I’ll refrain from commenting on the aesthetics of this project, particularly when it’s not complete.

"I don’t believe politicians should be responsible for selecting public art. We do need to find ways to get our citizens more engaged in selecting public art and I will support such changes. I look forward to seeing what my Council colleagues bring to the floor of Council in September.

"But really, sometimes statues of a guy or a gal on a horse can be really nice."