Good ideas Matter: Boost Opportunity and Creativity

With two murals complete, there’s already an ask for us to do more. I get it! They’re stunning, and it’s been an initiative that council has discussed for years. It was great to partner with the Allied Arts Council on this project. Now we’re all driving around analyzing the sides of buildings on their mural suitableness.

Erin Stevenson standing on the rock steps at Kenton Park

The pandemic has been trying on many of us, and the creativity aspect in our city took a hit due to the restrictions that were necessary to keep people safe. We’re known around the region for having amazing Canada Day celebrations yet last year was cancelled and this year was a subdued affair. Our regular programming was either cancelled or scaled back. We feel the desire from the community to reconnect and that’s often through creative outlets. It’s our job to provide those opportunities.

It’s also an opportune time for us to think outside the box and come up with creative ways to deliver cultural events. So, let’s be brave and think big and not let perceived constraints limit our thinking.

The Ideas

There are 3 sections- ideas for going forward, current initiatives in progress, and initiatives that have been implemented.

2021 Ideas Going Forward:

  • Family friendly events around the city that are outside of the box. Think ‘tenting in the park’ ‘walk, drive or pedal in movies’, giants scavenger hunts and pet parades. *
  • There is a desire for more culture in Spruce Grove and to make it accessible. Ideas like a chalkfest or an arts centred summer event where artists come to Spruce and show off their talents (think art wall/art walk/or mural fest)
  • We have pride in our city, yet with the lack of signage on our highways to welcome people, some may beg to differ. Let’s enhance our signage around the city and let’s make it easy to find your way around town. Wayfinding does not just belong in the city centre.
  • More murals! Bring the colour!
  • More outdoor events in general and throughout the year. But let’s take advantage of our long summer nights with music in the park, introduce a summer concert series and provide more social opportunities to residents to get to know each other.

Initiatives Currently In progress:

  • The civic centre is in its design stage (will either be approved or defeated by the 2021-20265 council) but currently the civic centre will include two ice pads, a second library location, the art gallery, a black box theatre, meeting spaces for our multiple organizations in the city and more. This has come a long way in features and way down in cost. *
  • I have long supported having a second library location and even suggested in 2017 that it be part of the new centre. *
  • Support of the arts community with black box theatre. The Horizon stage is wonderful but it has its limitations. *
  • The City Centre Business Association (CCBA) has done tremendous work bringing public markets to the city centre including a Winterfest and supporting Fall fest. We’ve seen our community flock to them and enjoy the vendors, music and food. *
  • Every year, with a generous donation from RMRF , the city is able to buy local art and support our community. The city has an impressive art collection of paintings, sculptures and drawings. Many of the art pieces can be seen throughout the city.

Initiatives that have been implemented:

  • The city purchased acres of serviced land in the Westwind land for future development. At this moment, the idea is to develop the civic centre on these lands. This was all possible due to previous agreements with the developer and forward thinking council members (previous councils) to be able to assemble this land in such a prominent area and help drive opportunity around it.
  • The completion of the first two murals has already brought so much joy and positive chatter. Do check them out at the corner of King and McLeod (near Fas Gas) and on the Cumbria Centre building (west side, where Rainbow Palace is located). *
  • Council supported the RCMP Musical Ride that came to the region in 2019. It was an impressive display for those who came out to enjoy.

A * denotes this idea was a part of my 2017 campaign platform and was happy to support and vote in favour. It does not mean I was responsible for it as it is a council decision to move any initiative forward.

Healthy Foundations Matter: Cultural Well-Being

Covid has taught us many things, including how much we love our culture! And we miss it, a lot. With various levels of restrictions put on us by the provincial and federal governments to keep us health and safe, our culture took a massive hit. We know it, we felt it and we want it back.

We’ve had time to reflect on what was provided and what we need to provide in the future. It likely has most of the same elements, but it has shifted. How we support our community groups, from the library to the Horizon stage to our sports teams, art, dance, music and more, the desire to be a more cultural and livelier city is there.

We often hear that Stony Plain has more culture- more murals, more musical events, more connection to their creative community. That is a fair point and whether it’s a criticism or not, it makes me pause. What are we doing to support culture and what are the next steps to ensure Spruce Grove is seen as a vibrant, progressive and talented community?

This is my lens for cultural well-being. As a resident and a member of council, consider the following:

  1. Cultural vitality– You support the arts in many forms and appreciate the talent and the job it brings to our community. You understand there is broad number of interests that makes up a strong cultural community and appreciate that it takes investment, both public and private, to ensure a thriving and successful community.
  2. Sense of belonging– You feel you belong here. There is a place for you and interests you align with. Whether it’s sports, recreations, arts, music, social events, festival, public markets, the library or something we haven’t discovered yet, that there is an opportunity to participate and add to the cultural flavour in the community.
  3. History and building a history- We are who we were, and we will be who we are now. Spruce Grove has a rich history including an Indigenous history that we haven’t really explored. You support learning this history including support for our existing archives, our societies who work to keep our history alive like the Agricultural Society and know that we work on creating history every day here in the city. You recognize those who contribute to making this place a little better than they found it. (archives, ag society, buildings, new buildings, public markets

Cultural well-being is the vitality that communities and individuals enjoy through: participation in recreation, creative and cultural activities; and the freedom to retain, interpret and express their arts, history, heritage and traditions.

We have many great pieces already that provide a strong foundation from which we can build. We have an amazing central library with a proposed second location in the civic centre, we have an art gallery (currently co-existing with the library), the Tri-Leisure Centre, the arenas,  Fuhr Sports park, public markets, a new privately owned baseball stadium under construction, Henry Singer Park, pickleball courts, the Horizon Stage, Columbus Park (currently under major renovation), Jubilee Park, the Spray parks and more. As things open up, more programming is happening. More events will be offered. But can we do more?

The proposed civic centre, in its design stage, will provide a much-needed piece for our cultural well-being. No longer just focused on sports and potential trade shows, the re-imagined civic centre will be a bustling centre for culture. Two arenas are part of the design, with one being the home of the Spruce Grove Saints, and one a full-time community rink. There will be a black box theatre that can house a few hundred people for performances, event hosting and more. There will be the second library location, a new art gallery, more meeting space and more community space.

Erin Stevenson standing in front of a colourful mural comprised of two hummingbirds

The possibilities of what can be done, what can be hosted there, is in its early stages, but it is exciting on what doors will open to us as we move into the final design stage and vote on making this centre a reality (the current council has only approved funding for the design of the building, the new council will make the decision on whether the building is actually built). The most recent council decision was in April, 2021 and included a presentation to council to proceed with the design phase.