By Sandy McCormick While pleasure boating off the shore of Powell River recently, I couldn’t help but notice the biggest eyesore along the otherwise beautiful coast, Catalyst Paper Corporation’s Powell River mill. It occurred to me that with some community partnerships this visual ugliness could become a marine tourist attraction.
If the mill buildings were painted dark green they would essentially disappear when viewed from the water. This could either be done during the company’s next painting cycle or advanced earlier with community incentives to do so.
The Hulks, the old concrete hulls which form an effective breakwater around the mill site, are also very unattractive. They’re a blight on the marine landscape and not in keeping with the inviting waterfront gateway to Powell River that the city, with its marina redevelopment, wants to create. If you think of those concrete hulls as a blank canvas on which to paint, however, the opportunities are endless.
While a city councillor in Vancouver, we engaged graffiti artists to beautify some bleak concrete walls and the same principle could be applied to these hulls.
Scenes depicting community history and values could be painted on the hulls. One painting could “belong” to Tla’Amin (Sliammon) First Nation, another to Catalyst. Each one could tell a different story about who we are as a community and what we believe in.
There could be a contest in which local artists would submit scene proposals and residents of the Powell River area could vote for which ones they like best. The scenes would need to be bold enough to catch a boater’s eye from a distance offshore.
Specialized equipment would be needed to enable the painting to be done from the water, as well as marine-quality paint. Questions would need to be answered, such as whether we have the resources ourselves to carry this off or whether we’d need to hire a specialized contractor to paint the scenes designed and selected by the local community.
The scenes could be so attractive that Townsite residents would want scenes painted on the inward sides of the hulls, which are visible from many of their houses.
The partnerships that would need to be created to make this happen could inspire a cooperative spirit, which would be an added long-lasting legacy from such an initiative, as well as a model of how a broad, community-based beautification project could be carried out.
The point is to not think of how difficult this would be to do, but to think of, if the motivation is there to do it, how we can work together to make it happen? Working together to beautify our mutual community should be a no-brainer.
With willingness and a cooperative spirit, a visual eyesore could truly become a tourist attraction, inviting those marine travellers who otherwise go cruising past our shores to stop by and see us. The potential economic spinoffs are mind-boggling.
Sandy McCormick lives on Texada Island.