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First downtown sculpture installed in Railtown

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
April 30th, 2013

Railtown, the latest in Nelson’s venture into revitalizing the community, received a new piece of art thanks to Winlaw-based artist Carl Schlichting.

The Railtown Sculpture “QR” — using everyday materials and careful construction — was unveiled recently to spruce up the already “spruced up” west end of Baker Street.

“Public art plays an important role as it regenerates and enhances our public spaces, offers educational opportunities, promotes tourism and creates a sense of place,” said Stephanie Fischer, CDC Chair.

“I believe that the sculptures the Cultural Development Committee has recommended to be displayed throughout the city fit well with the industrial theme of Railtown and the people theme of Baker Street.”

Schlichting studied fine art at Vancouver City College (Langara) after growing up in the Western Prairies, then acquired additional understanding and comprehension through travel and study over 25 years in his career as a museum curator and gallery owner.

That background has deepened his knowledge of materials and process while opening up new avenues in sculpting form and expressive exploration.

‘QR is eye-catching, clever and inventive. Taking a 12-foot length of discarded pipe, Schlichting has mounted it on a circular base to provide contrast.

The top of the sculpture ruptures in an explosion of raggedly wild concentric forms similar to the cutouts that provide depth perception along the vertical stem.

The Railtown sculpture continues a revitalization that began in the

1980s after Nelson lost its main economic drivers — Kootenay Forest Products and the Canadian Pacific Railway.

City Council of the day decided to revitalize the downtown core using the Heritage theme.

The benefits of Nelson’s first revitalization are still visible today in the vibrancy of the downtown and in the city’s ability to attract new residents.

In 2012, over 1300 business licenses were issued said a City of Nelson spokesperson.

“With the slow recovery in world economies our community is also experiencing challenging times” said Mayor John Dooley.

“We believe it is critical to continue to invest in the community in order to give our local economy a leg up.”

Thirty years later Nelson continues to build on success of the 1980s with:

·      The Nelson Official Community Plan designates the downtown commercial heritage core as a Development Permit Area. The guidelines encourage the maintenance and restoration of historic buildings, as well as the construction of new infill buildings that respect architectural precedents.

·      City Council approved the Path to 2040 Sustainability Strategy (2011). Two of the ten key focus areas are: Local Economy and Arts, Culture & Heritage.

·      Nelson City Council approved the Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan (2011). The plan describes a 20 to 30 year vision for sustainable growth, densification and improved connections throughout the downtown and waterfront area. Baker Street is highlighted as the hub of the community around which new activity will be concentrated.

In 2013, Council established a new downtown revitalization reserve that allocates a portion of the parking meter revenues specifically to the downtown.  Council is investing these funds in strategic improvements that will create additional vibrancy in the downtown.

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