New project creates vibrant public area with links to cultural spaces
COURTENAY, 14 DEC 2023 – The Sunshine Coast Arts Council is set to transform an area of the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre Garden into a vibrant and more welcoming space and provide a greater connection between key cultural locations through a new project investment with Island Coastal Economic Trust.
The project is a collaboration between the Arts Council and the Sechelt Downtown Business Association and will activate a pedestrian zone connecting four local cultural spaces and the hub of business activity in Downtown Sechelt.
“Our town is in dire need of creating this unique and innovative creative space,” says Sadira Rodrigues, Director/Curator, Sunshine Coast Arts Council. “This project is a tremendous gift for Sechelt that will be cared for well into the future.”
An outdoor pergola in the Arts Centre Garden will be converted into a covered seating and gathering public space with seating that mimics the shape of barnacles made from plywood. From the pergola, wayfinding will help link the Arts Center, Red Cedar Weaving Studio, the Public Library, and the Rockwood Lodge.
“Situating the space in our Garden is also important to us, as this has been a cherished public space since 1979,” says Sadira. “It is also one of the only public spaces that provides benches that have been lovingly tended to by volunteers for more than 40 years.”
This project will provide the opportunity to create a larger, more welcoming, and purpose-built gathering and play space, located only two blocks from the downtown core, and encourage social seating for residents and visitors to animate through a series of site-specific playboxes. Each playbox will be situated in the downtown core and hosted by a nearby cultural organization or business. The boxes will hold a different game or activity.
“Play-based placemaking has the power to cultivate a sense of belonging and connect people to the community,” says Theressa Logan, Executive Director, Sechelt Downtown Business Association. “It also has the potential to bridge gaps and break down barriers to creating safe, accessible, and people-welcoming environments with the intentional effort to thrive.”
The playful wayfinding will help thread the cultural gems that are at the edges of the business district and provide walking connectors between the various organizations. The proximity to the Senior’s Centre and elders, as well as its location adjacent to Hackett Park and its playgrounds and sports fields also helps bridge the intersection between art and sport, multi-generational communities, and provides opportunities to amplify new encounters.
“The amount of creative thought and collaborative effort that has gone into this project is both inspiring and commendable,” says Brodie Guy, CEO, Island Coastal Economic Trust. “We are very excited to see this project come to life and help bring a breadth and depth of events, activities, and people of all ages together.”
“Better Together, has become a ringing anthem among BC’s tourism industry, and this partnership between the Sunshine Coast Arts Council and the Sechelt Downtown Business Association truly personifies it”, says Chad Wetsch, General Manager of the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Tourism Region. “The deep collaboration, along with the unique design and hyper-local supplies, beautifully captures the essence of the Sunshine Coast, and will create a memorable space for both residents and visitors to connect with the community spirit of Sechelt for years to come.”
“We often speak of art being woven into the fabric of Sechelt,” says John Henderson, Mayor of Sechelt. “This will be a wonderful addition to physically show just how deep the arts roots run in Sechelt. Connecting the history of Rockwood to the library and the performance areas of the Arts Centre is a wonderful collaboration benefiting residents and visitors.”
“Sechelt is a lively community, filled with friendly and creative people,” says Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River – Sunshine Coast. “It’s so important that our local infrastructure reflects the communities it serves, and I’m so excited to see how this project will serve the people of Sechelt.”
Island Coastal Economic Trust is investing with the District of Sechelt in the Play Sechelt project through the Community Placemaking program. The Trust will contribute $50,000 which includes $25,000 from Vancouver, Coast & Mountains tourism region at Destination BC, who have partnered with the Trust to fund projects through the Community Placemaking program. The program provides one-stop funding up to $50,000 for as much as 100% of project costs for communities to collaboratively reimagine and revitalize public spaces across the coast.
Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.
Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $59 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $323 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2, 910 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.
Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.
Communications and Impact Manager
Island Coastal Economic Trust
Sunshine Coast Arts Council