Irricana installs last iconic mural due to budget cuts
Cuts to the annual budget have painted a grim picture for the Irricana Economic Development and Tourism Committee (EDTC).
The committee behind the town’s trademark building murals - part of the Main Street Beautification Strategy - revealed what is likely their last mural on June 19, due to the cuts.
“It was the motion by council to set the same mill rate (as last year),” said Alvin Melton, CAO of Irricana.
Slight increases have occurred in the last three years. The 2011 mill rate was 7.66, and the 2010 rate was 7.46.
This year the rate is 7.77 for residential properties and 8.66 for non-residential properties. Melton said $106,000 was cut from the budget in order to maintain rates similar to last year.
“(Almost $5,000) was cut from economic development,” Melton said.
Other areas cut from the budget included: approximately $4,000 from board volunteers, $15,000 from above ground infrastructures and $33,500 from administration. These changes resulted in the closure of the splash park and skating rink, as well as two employee layoffs and the closure of the Town office on Fridays.
Brenda Campbell’s role changed from economic development and tourism co-ordinator to administrative assistant of the Town of Irricana with the cuts. She said local artist Glen Collin will add onto the centennial mural, but there are no plans for additional paintings.
The committee was also responsible for Christmas in the Gateway, the EDTC Trade Fair, mascot appearances, business promotions and advertisements in tourism magazines.
“All of economic development was cut,” said Campbell.
Campbell said the cuts came in response to the demand by Irricana residents to lower taxes.
“Some of the stuff we have already paid and done,” Campbell said.
“It’s just the remaining budget.”
The 24 hand-painted acrylic murals have become culturally significant in Irricana she added.
Campbell, as well as community volunteers, have worked to incorporate elements from the town within the paintings including colourful country elements, white picket fences and the town’s mascot - Squeaky the country mouse.
“We started hiding a mouse in the paintings,” Campbell said. “Ten of the 24 have mice.”
Campbell painted half the murals and local youth volunteers helped her complete the final piece.
She makes collaboration easier by creating a large-scale colour-by-number and assigning areas to each volunteer.
The mural is hung outside the Grasshopper Gallery and features coloured pencil crayons lined up behind a white picket fence.
“Because it’s on the side of an art gallery, it has an art component,” Campbell said.
The mural is one component of the picnic area created outside of the gallery.
It ties in with the coloured picnic tables nearby. There are also plans to fill an overhanging tree with shoes decorated by young artists at summer camp.
Though this is the last mural funded by the committee, Campbell is hopeful the murals will continue on.
“Economic development has been cut now, but it doesn’t mean people can’t take the initiative and run with it.”