Inuvik is going forward with its planned new Gateway sign following a defeated motion to stop the process for two weeks to get more feedback from the community.
At their regular July 15 meeting, councillors voted 4-3 against a motion by deputy mayor Paul MacDonald “that the Town of Inuvik administration pause the Tourism Gateway Project for two weeks to reach out to residents in a straw poll on whether or not they like the current design of the sign.”
The motion would have halted the process of constructing the sign until the town could be sure the public was on board with the project.
MacDonald said the motion was to assess if the current negative feedback some councillors and staff were receiving was representative of the community as a whole.
“We can make a decision when we get the information back,” he said. “All I want to know is are we representing our constituents properly?”
Couns. Clarence Wood, Alana Mero, Gary McBride and Steve Baryluk voted against the motion. Deputy mayor MacDonald and Couns. Ray Solotki and Dez Loreen voted in favour. Coun. Kurt Wainman was present but did not respond when asked to vote.
“This is not just an issue of a bylaw passed or changing something small,” said Solotki in the lead-up to the vote. “This is something that is going to represent our community on social media and in photos, moving forward for a very long period of time. So to do a quick ‘We took your design elements, we listened to what you said, here’s how it went together — what harm is that going to do for us?”
“The harm is if you get an overwhelming ‘No we don’t like it’, what are we going to do about it? Start the whole thing over again?” responded Baryluk.
“Yes,” said Solotki.
“We have made a decision based on the best information we had available, we’ve done our due diligence as a council,” said Baryluk. “I don’t see why we feel we need to go back on our decision. We went forward with the information we had that based on the input that we got from all sides. There is no one who can claim this was not well advertised. We have all of it on record of what was put out there.
“I’m sorry, but I just feel that this is just too late.”
While the design for the new Gateway Sign is final, fabrication of the structure and installing it still has to be done and senior administration officer Grant Hood said the town has received several bids from local contractors, but they have all come in over budget so he is attempting to negotiate them down to be within the $100,000 remaining in the budget for the project.
In the works since 2015, Inuvik’s upcoming new Gateway sign has been a source of contention since Inuvik-born artist Ron English criticized the town for outsourcing the project to Fathom Studio, which operates in Nova Scotia, in a July 4 CBC article. The town said it did not receive a single bid from local artists to design the sign, but a local artist told Inuvik Drum the town’s tender made it difficult to put in a bid.
Some town staff have reported verbal and online abuse from residents angry about the sign.