District of North Vancouver council approved a street mural project at Braemar Elementary School and also directed staff to create a policy for similar projects in the future.
The motion for the mural project was brought forward by Councillor Matthew Bond.
Parents of students at Braemar have been working with the school administration to paint a street mural in the cul-de-sac at the school entrance. The mural would be used as a community building tool to bring awareness to student safety during school pick-up and drop-off. The parents hope to create this mural with involvement from the students and local residents near the start of the school year.
The staff was supportive and said street murals were an innovative way for citizens to engage in community building and to raise awareness for issues of pedestrian safety on residential streets.
The City of Portland, for example, has been permitting street murals for almost 20 years and has a policy and application process for citizens or neighbourhood groups interested in painting a street mural, the staff noted. In a report, the staff gave the council a reference to two studies on the positive influence of street murals.
A study of a street in Portland, where the community had come together to create street murals, showed that residents were significantly more likely to rate their neighbourhood as “an excellent place to live” compared to similar streets without murals. In another study, 85 per cent of people living near a street mural “perceived increases in neighbourhood communication and safety and a decrease in crime and traffic speeds”.
The council was supportive of the Braemar school project and directed staff to create a policy for future applications.
Councillor Lisa Muri said the district could work with parents on creating some parameters for this project, allow for public comment and create a policy on similar art projects. “I think public is supportive of this. The murals are great community-building and allow the children to have some voice,” she said.
Councillor Mathew Bond was supportive and said Portland and Vancouver had been approving such projects for several years. Mayor Mike Little too was supportive but said public safety was paramount. He was also in support of delegating public art work to district committees. “I don’t think the council would like to jury public art,” he said.