I had to leave one of our local community social media groups this morning as there were one too many W haters commenting on a post suggesting ideas about what to do next after the devastating fire at our pier.
I, too, look forward to one day walking all the way from Pier Park on a beautiful riverfront boardwalk down to Sapperton Landing with additional green space and beatifications. I, too, hope that Qayqayt First Nation Chief Rhonda Larrabee will be consulted and that her recommendations and suggestions for the land will be honoured and respected.
Some people say that they have never even been to Pier Park and that we that need more greenspace; sadly, these seem to be some of the exact same people who have been critical in their comments and share the belief that we certainly did not need this big cement lot with that ugly industrial eyesore of a W.
But, my dear Westies, do you not enjoy the rest of Pier Park with its large grassy areas, benches and sandy beach, the waterpark for the littles, the fun hammocks to lull away the day, and of course, our River Market and beautiful waterfront esplanade? Forever the complainers and critics focusing on what we don't have instead of being grateful for what we do have. These things definitely don't happen overnight, and they take vast amounts of our tax dollars. I hear the Pier Park cost about $24 million, and the spot the W was allocated to, I'm guessing, was kind of the end of the line, so to speak, or one could say the beginning of the next future phase - whatever way you look at it.
My partner and I love our Pier Park ,and we will miss our W. It felt like it belonged to all of us, and we share in the loss.
Public art: Of course not everyone is going to like it. There is no pleasing everyone. That is a given. I get that and that is OK I'm an artist. Yet I feel that shortly after a massive fire is not exactly the appropriate time to talk negative garbage. Those of us blessed with good mamas were taught “Sometimes we need to keep our thoughts to ourselves” - and most of us have heard the saying "too soon"
Oh, yes, art can be controversial; that in itself is part of what good or even bad art can be, because it is a place to start a conversation. It gets people talking, and discussing, and hopefully reflecting on the reasons why it might upset them so much or LOVE it that much, too. As a side note addressing one of the comments, I also hope that in the future more artists living and working within the local community will be selected by local juries for public art calls. We all know that supporting local artists is the way to go, right?
Speaking my truth as I am, I did not actually care for the W at first sight. I didn't quite get it. The WOW W came to grow on me and it was not too long before I came to love it. I took some time with it and went beyond my first reaction. I settled into the art and focused on what it came to represent to me. Community pride. Spirit and resilience. Strength and determination.
It makes me sad to see it gone, particularly now at this time in our history. I want to thank all the firefighters and first responders for saving as much of our park as was humanly possible. We are mourning the loss of our W, but we have so much to be grateful for as most of the park was saved and thankfully no one was hurt. Blessed be.
We have all been through a great deal this past year, and our coping mechanisms are wearing thin. 2020 has certainly been one for the record books. The ideals and values that the W came to represent to me, I believe, are all here, ever still, truly now more than ever. I choose to believe this. I need to. I think we all do.
Be kind, be calm and be safe. #newweststrong
Janet Kvammen, New Westminster