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Community mural space set up in area that was regularly ‘tagged’

Use of the back wall of the Nelson and District Youth Centre — and the Whitewater Resort building at 602 Lake Street — have been approved for a community mural wall to provide all Nelsonites with the opportunity to experiment with, and create, mural art. — Photo: NDAC

A community mural wall has been dedicated to provide all Nelsonites with the opportunity to experiment with, and create, mural art.

Use of the back wall of the Nelson and District Youth Centre — and the Whitewater Resort building at 602 Lake Street — have been approved by city council for the project.

During its regular meeting Monday night in council chambers, it was a unanimous decision to accept the proposal from the Nelson and District Arts Council (NDAC) to turn the back wall of the city-owned building over to the community mural wall project.

The downtown core sees regular “tagging” of spaces, and the youth centre building appears to be regularly defaced, wrote NDAC executive director Sydney Black in a letter to council.

“NDAC believes that this would be alleviated through providing a wall that all community members can use to create their public art,” she said.

The back wall of the youth centre would be a gigantic canvas for community members to elevate their art to a greater — and larger — stage.

“It would also allow for more cohesive, artistic work to be created as artists will not be rushing in the middle of the night trying to tag illegally,” she added.

The space will be monitored by the youth centre staff, Black explained, “who would ensure that the work is appropriate (no racism, nudity, gratuitous violence, etc.)” and that the work area would remain clean.

Any inappropriate work could be covered up with cans of spray paint, provided by NDAC to the youth centre staff.

Support for the project has been given by the building owner of 602 Lake Street as well as the youth centre and Whitewater staff, and the Nelson Police Department.

Other safety measures are planned to highlight the artwork as well as improve the space.

“We are in conversations to propose increasing the lighting in the alley as well so that the public space can be used by all members of the community in a safe manner,” Black said. In addition, Black noted that the arts council was proposing to have public education sessions in the schools to ensure young people were aware of the public wall and how to use the space respectfully.

Youth centre staff would be asked to address minor issues, while NDAC would remain available to address substantive maintenance issues.

Success of the international mural festival — hosted by NDAC — have proven to significantly eliminate graffiti in locations that were previously impacted by graffiti, noted a city staff report to council.

City seeks end to wildfire threat

New measures are officially on the legislative books to help move the city closer to becoming more resistant to wildfires.

Bylaw changes were passed Monday night that incorporate regulations derived from the best practices of FireSmart BC — a program that encourages residents to take the steps necessary to protect their property from wildfire through the adoption of FireSmart techniques.

In order to address the threat of ember showers, a city-wide planting restriction has been instituted to prohibit highly combustible new vegetation within 1.5 metres (five feet) of homes and structures.

“While an interface fire is a concern, the most likely scenario for Nelson will not be direct flames but an ember shower from a nearby fire,” noted a city staff report to council.

Wildfire embers can travel as far as two kilometres, meaning the entirety of Nelson is at risk, not just the homes adjacent to the forested lands.

The city-wide planting restriction prohibits highly combustible coniferous evergreen trees and bushes from being located near homes and structures for new landscaping — existing landscaping may remain.

“However, highly combustible plantings, specifically junipers and cedar trees, have been a favorite planting within the city,” the report noted. “The regulation cannot be applied retroactively, leaving the community somewhat vulnerable in the event of an ember shower.”

Although a penalty will be added to enforce the restriction, the Nelson Fire and Rescue Services are expected to use bylaw complaints as an opportunity to educate and inform the public about more appropriate fire-resistant plantings.

The land near the outskirts of the city has been designated a “natural environment and hazardous lands” development permit area — as a wildfire interface zone — since it abuts forested lands and now carries three major requirements.

Landscaping is the first consideration, with the city now requiring two priority zones around buildings: zone 1a which is a non-combustible surface around the principal building, dwelling, structures and any attachments (decks); and zone 1b which consists of fire-resistant plants and materials, as well as required maintenance for existing trees and vegetation.

Building materials receive more consideration in the bylaw, with specific requirements relating to roofing materials and exterior wall finishes.

As well, a covenant must now be registered on title ensuring that property owners maintain their properties in accordance with the development permit requirements.

Additional information on the new regulations can be found at nelson.ca/wildfire. A map of the wildfire interface is also available at www.nelson.ca/wildfire.

FireSmart Assessment

For those who might be concerned about the potential risk their property may contain when it comes to wildfires, Nelson Fire and Rescue Services offers free FireSmart assessments and risk evaluation of the exterior of homes and property.

People can contact Nelson Fire and Rescue to arrange a FireSmart home/property assessment at (250) 352-3103.