Heights Merchants propose $110K public art project

A triangular-shaped property on Hastings Street in North Burnaby will one day be home to a public art piece marking the gateway to the Heights commercial district.

The Heights Merchants Association has put out a request for proposals (RFP) seeking local and regional artists for the project, to be built at the corner of Hastings and Delta Avenue.

It's a project that the association has been dreaming of doing for at least 10 years, said its executive director, Isabel Kolic.

"We've always called it the 'Gateway Project' because we wanted a landmark to usher people into our community along Hastings Street."

Similar landmarks exist in the region, Kolic said, citing as examples the Chinatown gate and the Mount Pleasant clock on Main Street, both in Vancouver.

The North Burnaby association's "vision is to have an iconic piece of public art that becomes recognized over time and serves to welcome people into the neighbourhood," she said.

Epta Properties has granted an eight-by-24-foot easement to allow the artwork to be installed on the site of its Montage development being built on the southern side of Hastings, between Gamma and Delta avenues.

Kolic said the triangular-shaped parcel will be home to a four-storey, boat-shaped, mixed-use building and the artwork will be located at the northeastern end, adjacent to the "prow" or pointed end of the structure.

The association's members are "keeping our minds open" about what sort of art project they want,  she said.

It must be no taller than two storeys, or 17 feet (5.18 metres) high, according to the RFP. And it will be installed when the development is completed, expected in spring 2014.

Over the past few years, the association has been putting aside money for the project, which will also receive funding from the Burnaby Art Gallery and through the association's planned fundraising efforts.

The total budget for the Heights Gateway Project is $110,000, of which $30,000 will be an honourarium for the artist and $80,000 will fund all other aspects of the project, including materials, site preparation, installation and signage.

The call for proposals has generated quite a lot of interest from local professional artists, said Kolic, who suggested they are "intrigued" by the honourarium, which she called a "respectable" sum.

"We wanted to attract a higher calibre piece of art and we wanted to get an artist who was prepared to do a big project like this."

The winning submission will be chosen by a committee comprised of representatives from the Heights Merchants Association, Burnaby Art Gallery, Heights Neighbourhood Association and the City of Burnaby planning department.

Deadline for submissions is Dec. 7. Shortlisted candidates will be notified in January, with the winning submission to be chosen in March.

For more information on the request for proposals, visit

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