AGN Leads Project to Decorate Garbage Cans

In September 2018 Wally Keeler teamed with Lydia Smith to ask Council to fix the eyesores of ugly garbage cans around town (see link below).  The Parks and Recreation committee agreed with them  and in June 2019 Council passed a resolution to implement a “Trash to Treasures Pilot Program” and add it to the 2020 budget.  This did not happen and also did not happen in the 2021 budget – it’s currently listed in the 2021 operating budget as a special project in 2022/2023 with an estimated amount of $2000.  But all is not lost.  The Art Gallery of Northumberland has taken it on as an Education project for the Youth Council.  They plan to beautify 25 metal garbage cans located in our community – initially in Victoria Park.

Garbage Cans
Garbage Cans

AGN Statement

Beginning with 10 blank metal garbage drums, our Youth Council got to work to beautify the bins. After purchasing supplies from local businesses, the team primed the bins to create a smooth canvas for designs. The participants were encouraged to apply their own style when generating their ideas for the bins. From simple stripes to whimsical florals to fire breathing dragons, there was no shortage of creativity in this project. We had two painting sessions at the grounds of the Marina to complete all the bins. Once dry, the artwork was locked in with sealant. Keep your eye out at Victoria Park for the AGN Youth Council’s creations!

For more information about upcoming projects and events, along with volunteer opportunities, contact Education Program Assistant Ella Brouwer at ebrouwer@agncobourg.ca.

The Town supported the initiative on Twitter:

COMMUNITY: Great news! Victoria Park and surrounding areas will soon feature these wonderful garbage cans, designed and created by youth in our community. Help keep our parks clean. Next time you’re out, look for one of these stunning bins to dispose of your trash.

So what do we learn from this?

  • Wally Keeler does indeed directly lobby Council with projects involving creativity and they get supported
  • The Council does not want to spend even small amounts on such projects
  • The AGN does do community projects (see also their Mini-Art Galleries)

Links

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MiriamM
28 September 2021 3:38 pm

What happened to the ‘art in public spaces’ budget? Monies held in a Town reserve. I recall when a certain former councillor who later became mayor successfully advocated for an annual contribution of $5000 at budget time, earmarked for the public art reserve. Town Council could have decided to be a project partner and sponsor to pay for materials, e.g. paints and brushes, for the students to use. The project was overseen by the AGN and therefore has credibility guiding the student efforts as public art. There was a time when certain types of new development in Town paid a development charge towards a ‘community benefit’ which can include public art.

Suzanne Seguin
Reply to  MiriamM
28 September 2021 3:49 pm

Hi Miriam, I just checked the reserve for Cobourg Art in Public Spaces (CAPS). The reserve is currently at $27,243.30 which includes a $3,000 contribution in the 2021 budget.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Suzanne Seguin
30 September 2021 7:25 pm

Suzanne or who ever.

What has happened to the painted piano project? I found some truly inspired creations with even the uninspired producing great spontaneous public performances.

Once initiated there must be a committment to maintain these art projects for a specific number of years before deciding whether or not to continue them.

Bryan
Reply to  Keith Oliver
30 September 2021 8:18 pm

Keith:
Perhaps I’m reading your comment wrong,
You wrote “…Suzanne or who ever….” I take from this that you don’t know that Suzanne is the Town’s deputy mayor, and or you believe Suzanne is not who she says she is.

I sincerely hope I misunderstood your comment.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Bryan
30 September 2021 10:04 pm

Bryan
My question is directed to the Deputy Mayor or who ever else can answer it.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
1 October 2021 8:31 am

Oliver posted, “even the uninspired producing great spontaneous public performances.

It is impossible for the uninspired to produce great spontaneous public performances.

Merriam-Webster defines inspired as “outstanding or brilliant in a way or to a degree suggestive of divine inspiration.

Contrast that with the definition of uninspired, “lacking in inspiration or originality not inspired, a bland uninspired menu.”

Seems that Biden is not the only individual experiencing Biden moments. Even Merriam-Webster is confused about the meaning of “uninspired”,

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
1 October 2021 8:45 am

Oliver wrote “Once initiated there must be a committment(sic) to maintain these art projects for a specific number of years before deciding whether or not to continue them.”

Why MUST the Town commit to keeping and maintaining these art projects? I recall that the pianos were provided by members of the local public. They were pianos that individuals didn’t want then and didn’t mind that the piano was left out in the rain to deteriorate further. The piano project exhausted itself due to lack of availability of free pianos. Some forms of art are designed to be ephemeral, not there rotting for years. Time to move on to new fresh creative ideas — painted picnic tables, miniature painted paddleboards, and now, a creative project of painted garbage cans that, unlike the other art projects, provide a utilitarian service.

So over to you Oliver, What creative ideas have you got in the field of public domain art?

ben
27 September 2021 9:07 pm

21 comments and I had to wade through two thirds of them before I saw the question I am asking. Of course it came from Ken, the pennypincher Strauss. “How much will it cost?” Unfortunately his question only pertained to the cost of the bins. Never mind the huge but unannounced cost of emptying these bins before they overflow and produce more wails of woe from the self appointed guardians of Cobourg. So just how much will it cost to empty these bins, realising that some of them re not on the municipal garbage routes and some will have to emptied more than once a week?

Bryan
Reply to  ben
27 September 2021 10:08 pm

Ben:

So your preference is for people to throw their waste on the ground and letting it collect in wind blown piles against bushes and fences rather than putting it in a conveniently located trash can. You would also have us believe that cleaning up the trash piles is less expensive than emptying trash cans on a somewhat regular schedule.

ben
Reply to  Bryan
28 September 2021 7:31 am

Bryan, my preference is the same as yours – a clean and healthy Town. You do have an awful habit of jumping to peculiar conclusions designed to make the first commenter look stupid. Unfortunately your riposte only makes me wonder just what you really think.

You must have a short memory too, remember the hooh-hah that went on for weeks on this board and local media about the garbage produced at the beach, supposedly by all the ‘out of towners’? Well that died down and the rubbish was cleaned up on a regular basis.

The point of my question was simple – how much will it cost to pick up garbage from all of the painted garbage cans that you and others on this board are requesting for other places in Town. After all painting the cans costs money, emptying them will cost much more – how much more?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
28 September 2021 8:54 am

Ben, like clearing the roads of snow, most would agree that keeping our town clean and free of trash is an essential service. If these essential services prove too expensive than we can eliminate the non-essential — affordable housing, downtown CIP, lifeguards and painted street intersections to name a few.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
28 September 2021 10:17 pm

It will cost exactly the same to pick up the garbage from a painted can as it costs to pick it up from an unpainted can. These painted cans are not above and beyond the number of cans we had before some were painted. The trash cans are positioned only on Town property, ie. parks, where the status quo continues in regards to costing the emptying of the cans. It costs exactly the same to empty a painted can as it was the years before to empty a rusted out graffiti covered can. It’s a replacement project. Make the cans look attractive rather than eyesores. I think Cobourg taxpayers consider a couple grand spent on this project was money well spent because everyone in Town gets to enjoy the enhancement that several young artists have made to this Town.

This brings me to another point. I understand that given covid protocols, it was impossible to take a group picture with all the student artists and the cans stacked behind them. Sigh. But it would be wonderful if the AGN had taken an “official” photo of each student artist standing beside or behind their creativity and post the portraits in a digital gallery on an AGN social media site. Each portrait could include a 30-40 word statement from the artist. These students could find this invaluable when they enter the real world and their resume can link to their image on the AGN gallery. Or maybe one of them becomes an arts star and gets asked when they were first inspired, and they tell the story how, 40 years ago they painted cans in Cobourg. These students have made their first mark on the community and deserve the honour for their creativity.

ben
Reply to  Wally Keeler
29 September 2021 6:15 am

 It costs exactly the same to empty a painted can as it was the years before to empty a rusted out graffiti covered can. It’s a replacement project.”

Thanks for the info Wally, if there is no ‘mission creep’ as desired by many on this board!

Frenchy
Reply to  ben
29 September 2021 7:32 am

Huh?

ben
Reply to  Frenchy
29 September 2021 9:16 am

wiki definition of mission creep: Mission creep is the gradual or incremental expansion of an intervention, project or mission, beyond its original scope, focus or goals, a ratchet effect spawned by initial success.[1] Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to how each success breeds more ambitious interventions until a final failure happens, stopping the intervention entirely.

In other words the costs of emptying the bins will not change unless the Town reads this board and decides to place more bins where the commenters want them placed.

clear enough for you frenchy?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
29 September 2021 10:07 am

Methinks he may be referring to two commentators here who suggested that it was an idea that they would like to see on their street. It’s an encouraging statement, but I would oppose the Town doing it. If, for example, the residents in the Abbott Blvd neighbourhood wanted one of those beautiful cans to enhance their hood, they are welcome to buy one, hire a student artist to paint it and it out on private property, similar to those cute book exchange boxes that some have. And the residents of the hood will have to be responsible for emptying it. I would encourage that sort of civic participation.

Perhaps the Lion’s club would like such a bin to enhance their property, and they decide that they like a particular can but they don’t know which individual student painted what. Naming each creative individual is a fundamental priority of unveiling the created objects themselves. Oops. An oversight that I hope will be corrected going forward. Meanwhile, those who would like to have one of these creative individuals do a cam, contact the AGN for the names. I am sure they have them.

JimT
Reply to  ben
28 September 2021 1:22 pm

comment image

“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”
― Oscar Wilde [1854 – 1900 ]

Last edited 28 days ago by JimT
ben
Reply to  JimT
28 September 2021 3:03 pm

Hmm perhaps this post should be applied to the majority of this Board, goodness knows I have laid this quote against many of you many times.

But to be serious please tell us the additional costs of emptying the bins. Rhetoric and wishful thinking hasn’t done it yet!

Bryan
Reply to  ben
28 September 2021 3:35 pm

Ben:
You’re the one so concerned about the cost of emptying the bins. Go ask DD Behan (Parks Dept) or CFO Davey.

Frenchy
Reply to  ben
28 September 2021 3:43 pm

I don’t know if there would be any additional costs.
Wouldn’t any garbage collected in these stunning new cans either have been placed in the old rusted ones or strewn about and would have to be picked up by town staff regardless.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
28 September 2021 10:18 pm

Exactly.

Mrs.J.
27 September 2021 2:33 pm

I totally applaud this trash can initiative, but let’s not just stop at their placement at Victoria Park and the nearby surrounding area at the beach. In my humble opinion, these artistically painted cans should be increased in numbers and placed strategically on our downtown and arterial roadways as well i.e. Elgin, University, Burnham, Division etc. Sadly, far too often these streets get littered with empty takeout containers etc. by careless folks that refuse to be neat in our town.
Perhaps these artistic trash cans can become a signature item for our town, similar to the painted fire hydrants in Tweed, murals in Chemainus etc.

Last edited 29 days ago by Mrs.J.
JimT
Reply to  Mrs.J.
27 September 2021 3:24 pm

We could use a few on my quiet little side street, too, to encourage better behavior from those apparently detached souls who leave beer cans, food containers and such littered on our lawn and others nearby almost every night.

Last edited 29 days ago by JimT
Mrs.J.
Reply to  JimT
27 September 2021 3:43 pm

Jim T. I totally agree that trash cans should be on side streets as well, since I personally feel your pain, due to the exact same mess happening constantly on the street where I live! Beer cans, mickey liquor bottles, “filled” dog poop bags, tossed on my lawn. YUCK!!!
Hopefully, this trash can initiative S-P-R-E-A-D-S all over town!

Last edited 29 days ago by Mrs.J.
Bill Thompson
Reply to  Mrs.J.
27 September 2021 9:21 pm

Before I would go overboard on painted rubbish bins in town & elsewhere I’d give it some time to observe how the ones in the park are treated.
There are a lot of graffiti “artists” out there in case you haven’t noticed who’ve done their”creations” on the side of buildings fences ,bridges and elsewhere.

Last edited 29 days ago by Bill Thompson
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Bill Thompson
28 September 2021 10:31 pm

I understand your concern and I agree to a wait and see. Graffiti was a big problem in Toronto. I lived in a graffiti-laden part of town. Well, three decades ago a large number of retailers and landlords along Queen Street West had a back alley that was bloated with graffiti tags. They decided to invite many accomplished artists and provided them with walls for their murals. The retailers set up a weekend, make it big DJ party in the alley while painting the walls. The result is the famous Graffiti Alley of Queen West. The stinkers who tag, went else where. It’s a sort of code of honour among thieves. Taggers generally do not tag graffiti art.

They would tag a rusted out corroded can. They would look at it and think that if the Town doesn’t care what the can looks like, then why not tag it. Couldn’t make it any worse. Guiliani’s broken window concept worked wonders for NY. This project will work similarly.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Bill Thompson
29 September 2021 10:28 am

The railway underpasses on Division and William are scarred with graffiti. Those pillars that are tagged belong to the railway, not to the Town. I suspect that the same phenom exists on the underpasses in towns across the country. If there is a broad coalition of municipal govts that would collectively lobby the two railway companies to set up a special arts fund that municipal art galleries could access and apply for, to hire local students to paint beautiful pillars. The railway company should get a tax write-off for servicing the communities they run through. And towns get a more beautiful ambiance in which to live their lives. This could be the Railway Underpass Project, where municipal art galleries across Canada, could collectively lobby the railway companies for such a project. All we need is a leading gallery. Assault blight with beauty. Think nationally, act locally. Call it the National Cover-Up, of Blight.

Last edited 27 days ago by Wally Keeler
ruby begonia
27 September 2021 11:17 am

Kudos Wally and Lydia for pursuing your original recommendation and upon realizing it was going nowhere with the Town, involving AGN who also deserve credit for taking on this project. Their Youth Council did a great job of transforming these ugly cans. I had to look back at John’s Sept. 2018 post for a reminder of just how ugly those original cans were. Happy ending (or beginning?).

Rob
27 September 2021 10:21 am

This is a great idea! Should consider an expansion of this partnership and look for artistic avenues for sprucing up the canteen and patio at the beach…..

What'sUpDoc
27 September 2021 8:41 am

Thanks Wally and Lydia. Now can you promote having the apartment doors on King street painted in lively colours. I made the suggestion every year for 15 years – now I have given up.

Cobourger
Reply to  What'sUpDoc
27 September 2021 9:41 am

I agree with you. However, those doors are owned by the landlord, not the town. And the town can’t force the landlord to do this. I wish they would.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  What'sUpDoc
27 September 2021 9:42 am

Perhaps you were not persuasive in your presentation. The first issue that comes to mind, is that the doors you want painted are private property. The Town has better ideas to use its time than persuading each individual owner of a door to paint it a vibrant colour. You might be better off trying to persuade the DBIA, but they cannot override a property owners rights. There is also the issue of heritage colours, and bright lively colours are contrary to the “official” colour scheme. Might be a good idea to photo the downtown and Photoshop the doors with lively colours so that one can see what it could look like. You are right to cut your losses so to speak.

marya
Reply to  What'sUpDoc
28 September 2021 7:44 am

I admired the lively colours on the Stores on King Street until a few years ago when the trend was to paint them black or dark grey. I agree with the suggestion to paint the apartment doors, yet now I am not sure of those lively combinations with what is now there.

Cobourg resident who admires community intiative
27 September 2021 8:29 am

Congrats to Wally Keeler for the initial idea and Olinda and the AGN for grabbing the ball and running with it.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Cobourg resident who admires community intiative
27 September 2021 9:42 am

and Lydia Smith

beach lover
27 September 2021 8:18 am

An excellent addition to town …fantastic to see! Thanks to all involved for making this happen.

Ken Strauss
26 September 2021 4:44 pm

The Council does not want to spend even small amounts on such projects.

How does the cost of this project compare with the cost of the recently approved Seven Feather Crosswalk?

Concerned
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 September 2021 9:25 am

Well the crosswalk is only costing town the paint and staff time so why try and start an issue where there isn’t one?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Concerned
27 September 2021 12:04 pm

The most expensive part is the designing and cutting of the feather to make a vinyl stencil. But that part had already been done and what is happening is that the feather stencils will travel the lands looking for approvals from municipal councils everywhere. Seven Feathers. Seven Virtues. That is the making of half a Shakespearean sonnet. The feather touches with lightness. The only downside is the image of so many tires running over the virtues, but then again, perhaps that might be a salient point, how Western civilization went on a snatch and grab for resources to energize production of lots and lots of cool stuff for as many human beings as possible. I trust the stencils will be preserved by the group who paid for them and always be available when a municipality wants to renew the crosswalk.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
27 September 2021 1:15 pm

I believe Ken’s issue is that the Town can find money for the Seven Feathers crosswalk, but not the trash cans.
Perhaps the reason is the trash can project was initiated locally (Wally & Lydia, thanks), while the Seven Feathers project comes from away and therefore must certainly be of greater value and importance.

Last edited 29 days ago by Bryan
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
27 September 2021 2:40 pm

Reading the Council agenda (https://pub-cobourg.escribemeetings.com/FileStream.ashx?DocumentId=11891) I have several concerns.

Under “Public Engagement” we are told that “the actions proposed in the report provide opportunities for residents to demonstrate their support…” This turns public engagement upside down! Public engagement it to determine what the public wants; it is not to approve a project to demonstrate that the public wanted it.

Why is the report not approved by an appropriate town manager?

Why was this project added to the agenda at the last minute without any prior public discussion nor an opportunity to provide input?

In reply to Concerned, the feather painting project is expected to cost $1200 rather than being free. Why can it be approved and completed in one week yet the trash can project, with a similar cost, requires a delegation by Wally and Lydia, two budget cycles and a three year delay for completion?

Concerned
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 September 2021 3:16 pm

See above.

Concerned
Reply to  Bryan
27 September 2021 3:15 pm

Well it is a bit disgusting that you are going to compare honouring those from residential schools to painted garbage cans that aren’t honouring anyone but heh you do you 🤦‍♂️.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
27 September 2021 4:16 pm

Concerned, it is a bit disgusting that a simple town improvement project takes 3 years to complete. It is a bit disgusting that public engagement means giving the public an opportunity to demonstrate that they wanted the already completed project. It is a bit disgusting that projects come before Council with no town staff willing to claim ownership. It is a bit disgusting that items come before Council and are approved with no opportunity for the public to provide input.

Concerned
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 September 2021 4:27 pm

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Concerned
27 September 2021 10:28 pm

C’mon Concerned, don’t be such a cry baby.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned
27 September 2021 8:17 pm

Concerned:

The merits of the Seven Feathers project is not the issue. Rather, it is what is the benefit to Cobourg residents. The Town’s business is providing municipal services that benefit Cobourg’s residents. I suggest that functional trash cans, located at convenient places benefit Cobourgers as much or more than a painted crosswalk. The artwork on the trash cans is a bonus.

As for council, the Municipal Act is very clear in its mandate to Council….Represent the residents.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Concerned
27 September 2021 10:26 pm

It is one of the stupidest things to do, to morally compare two projects. The painted garbage cans engaged Cobourg’s youth, and provided young people with a way to make their creative mark in the public domain in ways that do not involve graffiti. Indeed, many of the former trash cans were graffiti-laden. This project provides decorative cans that do not encourage graffiti. That is an honourable service to the town. It is also an honourable service to the Town to encourage youth creativity. Why Concerned diminishes and disdains such local youth creativity preferring instead a cookie cutter project in Cobourg’s public domain designed by non-local artists and carried out by municipal officials. The Seven Feather project will be identical in every community where it appears, whereas the trash cans in Cobourg display a broad diversity of creativity, and I love diversity, rather than conformity. Personally I like the Seven Feather Project for all that it is, but it is odious to make a moral judgement about these two separate and distinctive projects. All that you have done, Concerned, is to display your righteous virtue signalling, and it is difficult to find anything less boring than virtue signaling..

JimT
Reply to  Wally Keeler
28 September 2021 1:29 pm

If nothing else, these attractive receptacles are more likely to get noticed, as in:

“Oh, look, there’s a trash can right there!”