Community projects…


Pocket park, anyone? In 2015 the Village of Kaslo’s website featured a short survey re: what people would like to see happen to the vacant lot beside the Kaslo Village Hall, former site of the village’s firehall. The majority of those replying chose a public garden/park. Following a call for submissions, the Village chose one landscape design but to date has not found the funds to finalize the design/adjustments/alterations/infrastructure needed to most effectively carry out this project. This doesn’t mean the Village doesn’t want to do it; there just aren’t more than 24 hours in a day and they have a long list of things they are working on…. But the initial plan is in place and Kaslo’s Public Art Committee will have a hand in encouraging the public to take part in the process and decision making at certain points in the creation of the “pocket park”.

Definition (Wikipedia):  A pocket park (also known as a parkette, mini-park, vest-pocket park or vesty park) is a small park accessible to the general public. Pocket parks are frequently created on a single vacant building lot or on small, irregular pieces of land.

Along with accessibility, there is potential to create the elements of this type of park as unique to Kaslo as possible…which can of course, encompass a whole range of ideas.

Here are some ideas that have been collected, given the location  and size of the space and in consideration of the “character” of the Village of Kaslo:

  • Perhaps a brick or flagstone pathway with the family names of those living  (past and present) in Kaslo stamped in the bricks which could form the paths in and around this space. These types of materials also offer an easy surface for walking on or pushing a stroller or wheel chair.
  • Building material?  Brick walls, ironwork or…maybe river stone from the Kaslo river to create a defined area around the park.
  • Should there be water in some form in the park? that might depend on the capacity of the Village water system…(if something like a fountain is considered) or not.
  • Could the benches be made out of locally harvested wood ? of the Village’s policies is to whenever possible, use locally sourced wood for Village “furniture” (ie benches), etc, so perhaps that would work well with the design.
  • Could we hire local sculptors to design several lamps (run on solar energy?) to be included for lighting the area at night?.
  • Could there be a life sized miner’s cabin in the centre of the park for kids to explore in? We have a history of mining in the area. Perhaps the Kootenay Lake Historical Society would like to be a partner in research of the historical side (which is huge!) of features included in the park.
  • Put in a “Speakers corner” at one end, perhaps enlarged  enough to serve also as a performance space or platform for musicians – music being such a large and positive feature of the Village….

These are just a few random ideas to get collective creative juices going and to encourage use of local resources and local knowledge and local talent to help make it “the right place” for Kaslo. Stay tuned for further developments as the plan continues to develop.


How Kaslo’s Public Art Policy Came to Be

If you experience a frisson of visceral pleasure whenever you encounter the phrase “public policy” or the word “governance,” then today we have the blogpost for you. Kaslo can modestly claim to be the smallest village in British Columbia to possess a Public Art Policy (please contact us if you wish to contest this), and given that apart from our four war memorials, the Village possesses only two pieces of public art (see our Inventory of Public Art in Kaslo), we can also boast the highest art policy-to-actual-art ratio (or as Albertans might say, hat-to-cattle ratio) of any jurisdiction anywhere.


Here, then, is how our policy came to be.

In the spring of 2014, we (D. Borsos and D. Jackson) discovered from an item in the Valley Voice‘s coverage of the Village of Kaslo’s council minutes that Kaslo did not have a public art policy, and that this was impeding the village’s ability to acquire public art. After brief consultation with the village’s CAO, we volunteered to write such a policy for the Village of Kaslo, and the CAO agreed.

We looked online for other small communities’ public art policies which could serve as models for Kaslo’s.  Finding nowhere as small as Kaslo with a policy of this kind, we chose policies from three somewhat larger places that we could adapt to Kaslo’s population of 2,500 (village and surrounding area). These places were Gibsons, B.C. Canada (pop. 4,100), Nelson, B.C., Canada (population 10,000), and Cairns, Australia (pop. 151,000).  We then culled ideas and language from each of these to create an initial draft policy for Kaslo.

We thank Gibsons, Nelson,  and Cairns for the use of their excellent material and the inspiration it provided. Thanks also to Lynda Lafleur, then Northwest Regional Liaison for the Columbia Basin Trust, and Joy Barrett, Cultural Development Officer for Nelson B.C. Both these people were very helpful with their time and suggestions as to the initial design of our public art policy.


Designing the Policy

The next step was to use the rough draft as a basis for eliciting input from the community, and to create a process for getting that input. We identified the following priorities:

1. The process should be inclusive, thorough and as fair as possible.  We steered cleer of the community meeting format, because in our experience too many people would not attend; of those who did, a handful of outspoken people would be likely to dominate.  Therefore we decided to interview people one and two at a time, so that everyone could speak freely.

2. We should ask a broad range of questions to gather as much information as possible from participants.  We wanted to gain a comprehensive sense of what Kaslo’s existing public art means to the village’s  residents, and what kinds of public art they would like to see (or not) in the future. Another aim was to invite people to consider more generally the various roles that public art can play in enhancing our community.

3. We should include as many of the key stakeholders in Kaslo’s arts and cultural community as possible.  Of the 59 people or groups we approached, 55 were more than willing to be interviewed. (Note: we will explore the question of who is a stakeholder in a future post.)

4. We should take as much time as needed for each interview.  Initially we planned for each interview to take 20 minutes, but some were as long as three hours, which attests to the level of interest we encountered.  We thank everyone who we intewrviewed for their generosity with their time.

5. We should follow a timeline.  The project began in March 2014; interviews began in April, and in early July we made a presentation to Kaslo Village Council to inform them how the project was coming along and when we could present the draft policy to them for final acceptance. In early September, we presented the policy and guidelines to Council, along with recommended names for the Public Art Advisory Committee (see below). Council accepted the policy and appointed the recommended people to the newly-created committee.

We stayed in communication with the CAO throughout this time, and we believe the process went more smoothly as a result.

Choosing the Public Art Advisory Committee

From the beginning, our rough draft policy stipulated that council appoint a Public Art Advisory Committee, made up of local residents and, as required by Council, one council appointee.  We asked each person we interviewed who they would like to see on such a committee. A number of people suggested that key arts and cultural groups should be invited to each appoint a committee member representing that group. Most people, however, named individuals who they felt would do a good job.


After completing the interviews, we reviewed the list of recommended names from various perspectives:  gender, age, experience in the arts, work as an artist, and other relevant skills.  With these in mind, we assembled a list of five names to recommend to Council. In asking the five if they were willing, we also asked each of them, individually, if they could happily work with the rest of the committee. All of them said yes. We went to these lengths in order to maximize the Public Art Advisory Committee’s long-term chances of success.

Following the first meeting of the committee, we formally concluded our association with the project.   We offered to discuss with them any specific issues that might arise pertaining to the work we had done, but beyond that,  the policy and committee were now under the auspices of the Village of Kaslo CAO and Council. (Since then, just for the record, we have both joined the committee, which is now known as KPASAC–the Kaslo Public Art Select Advisory Committee.)

To see the Village’s Public Art Policy, please click here.

Sculpture Walk….deadline to vote approaches.

The deadline for casting your vote for your favourite piece of public art in this year’s Castlegar Sculpture Walk draws near. September 30 is your last chance to cast your vote, if you have a chance to take a stroll and in-person look through Castlegar’s collection of public artwork for 2016.Voting/ballot boxes are in various locations spread around Castlegar. One is in the city center in front of city hall. Another at the grocery store and another at the railway museum.

Here is a link to the brochure to refer to. Only hard copies of the ballot are accepted for voting.Contact if you can’t find any ballots – they may already have been used up, but we can access more if you need one, and couldnt find one in Castlegar.

In 2015 Chris Petersen and Spring Shine from the North Kootenay Lake area entered “Regeneration” (see below), a wonderful and interactive reflection on our past history of forestry. Many who came by had to take a seat inside this hollow stump and enjoy the beautifully finished multi-colored wood interior and feeling of safety that such an enclosure provides.”Regeneration” won the People’s Choice award in 2015, was purchased by the City of Castlegar  and now sits outside city hall there.



This year, Chris Peterson and Spring Shine got together again, now joined by Hans Winter, to create another entry. “Sculpture Walk” is a wonderful mind-twisting walkway which, beyond its own intriguing lines, offers incredible shadows as the sun moves across the sky.

For more information and photos of work  by  all the artists who entered the 2016 Sculpture Walk:


Spring Shine is one of the artists whose artwork can also be found in the Village of Kaslo, such as this piece , “Soaring”, which is displayed on Front Street in Kaslo, beside Kooterra Pottery


The value(s) of public art…

Some pieces of public art go unnoticed except by a few sharp-eyed people who are looking for what is different or unique about a place. The value of a public art installation, whether it is stationary or mobile, permanent or short-lived, historically significant or of-the- moment, reflects the character of a place and is hard to quantify in terms of economic value. Culturally or socially it may hold much greater value than a dollar sign would imply. These things help to tie a community together and foster a sense of identity.

Labyrinth, St. Mark’s Anglican Church, 601 5th Street, Kaslo, BC. Photo by Deb Borsos.

One way public art can create value is when an audience watches or even participates in it being made. This has happened each May since 2014 at Kaslo’s MayDays Logger Sports arena, where celebrity chainsaw carver Ryan Cook has worked/performed with enthusiastic audiences. His first work, in 2014, was Kaslo’s Protectors, a pair of ospreys perched atop a pedestal with a tree spirit carved in the post, appropriate to our area and now located downtown, on Water Street, on the edge of Kootenay Lake. In addition to entertaining and educating audiences while being carved, Kaslo’s Protectors now enriches visitors’ visual experience as they explore the village. Cook’s work gains value from being donated to the village by LoggerSports, associated with Kaslo’s tradition of forestry: not the first sector you think of when public art is considered, but a significant part of what makes up the culture of Kaslo and area.

Does public art always have to be serious? Heck no. Sometimes, what becomes endearing and enduring about a piece of artwork, what makes it part of the community, is unexpected additions…

The ospreys of  Kaslo’s Protectors have shown an astounding ability to  keep track of holidays and special events! They have appeared dressed up for Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, May Days, and most recently, on Labour Day in acknowledgement of workers around the globe and specifically Kaslo’s Village Crew.

Kaslo’s Protectors (Ospreys and Tree Spirit), Water Street, Kaslo, BC. The fine porint at the top of the sign says, “Ospreys & Tree Spirit wish Kaslo’s Public Works Crew a Happy Labour Day.”  Photo copyright E. Fry.

Mostly, public art is found in larger centres with bigger populations and a larger tax base to support such things.  That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be found elsewhere and help to support smaller centres as well as adding to the character of a small town. Revelstoke, BC,  just a few hours up the winding road from Kaslo, features a magnificent sculpture of a grizzly bear mother and cub at the entrance to the town. Since its installation, hundreds upon hundreds of visitors to Revelstoke have stopped to have their photos taken beside it, and by so doing have created lasting memories for people far beyond those of Revelstoke. It is one more feature the town has to offer its visitors to stay, explore, and perhaps return in future.


Bears, Revelstoke, BC. Photo courtesy of