Jennifer Marshall and her Space 2 Place Landscape team from Urban Arts Architecture speaks in Smithers last Wednesday. Chris Gareau photo

Three ideas for gallery/library Arts and Culture Centre

VIDEO: Three layout ideas for a $10-million Smithers library/art gallery presented.

They had less than one day to come up with something by last Wednesday’s public meeting on a planned $10-million arts and culture centre for Smithers.

The Space 2 Place Landscape team from Urban Arts Architecture was able to come up with three conceptual drawings to get feedback from the 30 or so who came out to the meeting at town hall.

The group is the same one that came up with a feasibility plan for a new library in 2009 that did not get built. The Town of Smithers and user groups hope to save some money by using the same team.

Introduction video:

The crowd was smaller than the 100 who came out to hear about the project last October, but engaged. Most were connected to the library or art gallery, the two components of the centre planned for Veteran’s Peace Park along Aldouse Street, between Alfred and Railway Avenues.

The drawings were based on workshops and feedback the day before from some affected, including the Royal Canadian Legion. The cenotaph that is current focus of the park behind the library would be moved closer to Alfred Avenue and Main Street in all three concepts.

Space 2 Place Landscape’s Jennifer Marshall led the discussion, describing the differences between the three drawings. None of the drawings are considered final options, but were meant to get thoughts from the crowd on strength or weaknesses.

Proposed option 1:

The big focus is on efficiency by having shared spaces between the gallery and library.

“The principals that we’ve been charged with by council is to take an approximately 5,000-square-foot art gallery, approximately 12,000-square-foot library, and turn them into a 12,000-square-foot art gallery/library. So we’ve been working magic by working with those groups and coming up with how they can work together and share space, create a more synergistic and exciting facility for the community,” said Marshall.

Proposed option 2:

The facility would be built to passive house standard to save on operating cost and energy use, without actually putting in the extra effort and potential cost of trying to get the certification. It would also be universally accessible. How much of the park would be a plaza type landscape versus more green space was discussed, with green space being more favourable to the few who spoke up.

Proposed option 3:

Library board member Wally Bergen also stressed the need to have a unique — but not necessarily at extra cost — Bulkley Valley look to it. Marshall said using as much local contractors and materials would help that become a reality.

A circular area was also planned to be set aside to be used as a story time space for kids and for Wet’suwet’en elders to share with the public.

The next public meeting Aug. 20, 4 p.m. with a 5 p.m. presentation at town hall is being billed as a “concept refinement” one, with more tweaking than big ideas being taken by then. Council members and the mayor have said before that they hope to have something to present and run an election on before October.

Any plan will likely need taxpayer approval in an alternative approval process or referendum to give the go-ahead for a big loan.

“There are a whole bunch of people who are super sold on the idea and love it, and there is a whole bunch of other people who don’t want anything more period for their taxes,” said Coun. Phil Brienesse at the meeting.

“So somewhere you have to hit that sweet spot between the aspirations of the group and the community, as well as what the community at large is willing to pay,” he added, explaining how council landed on the size and scope of the project.

Questions on the project can be sent to

Questions regarding this project can be directed to project coordinator Alison Watson: alison@watsonprojects.ca.

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