Officials with the City of Calgary says they are looking at delaying almost all of the public art projects currently planned so that a formal review can be done on the approval process for installations.

According to a report submitted to council on Monday, eight of the 11 projects scheduled for Calgary can be delayed until spring of 2018. The three remaining projects, however, may end up costing Calgarians big money if the city steps in.

The city has already decided to go ahead with the 17 Avenue S.E. transitway, calling it a significant project already underway.

Two other projects, the Anderson pedestrian bridge and the 112 Avenue widening, would cost the city $125,000 if they were delayed.

“In the case of the Anderson pedestrian bridge, the agreement with the province explicitly states that their project costs need to be submitted by November 2018 or we would forfeit $50,000. We have also engaged with the T’suu T’ina Nation about this project and done quite a bit of community engagement and felt that there were expectations that that project would continue,” said Sarah Iley, arts and culture manager with the City of Calgary.

Public art installations have been a controversial issue this year, especially since the unveiling of the Bowfort Towers near Canada Olympic Park in August.

The piece, created by New York City artist Del Geist, made critics question the approval process and the funding allocated for such pieces.

Right now, public art is funded by the city’s infrastructure projects that are over $1M in price. One percent of the first $50M goes toward public art and then half a percent after that.

Mayor Nenshi, after the Bowfort Towers controversy, said that there is a problem with the city’s policy regarding public art.

He said he wants to see more public input into art projects as opposed to the current seven member panel.


Meanwhile, council also decided to freeze a $180,000 proposal to refurbish a public art piece at Genesis Centre.

The Wishing Well, created by Living Lenses, cost $559,000 and was comprised of a group of polished stainless steel structures representing a seed.

In January 2013, a woman was standing inside the reflective dish when she realized that her coat was scorched by the sun’s rays that were refracted and amplified inside the installation.

It has since been removed from the site.