At the April 3rd South Dundas council meeting, councillor Archie Mellan opened discussion with council on where things stand with several of the South Dundas murals.
According to Mellan, the South Dundas Mural committee “had two meetings in March. They’re wanting me to express to council there’s going to be three down this year,” including the one on the Valumart wall. “It’s such a large mural and no one’s come forward.”
He reminded council that the “township is responsible for removing the mural and for repairs to the wall.”
“There will probably be some cost to that,” added Mellan. “The mural committee doesn’t know how much.”
“It isn’t at the point yet that it has to be taken down. They would suggest some notification to public,” said Mellan.
“It is such a large prominent mural in Morrisburg, so some people might complain,” he continued. “If people know the fate of the mural, maybe somebody might come forward.”
Chief administrative officer Stephen McDonald suggested, “the sooner we talk to Riley (Hatherall), the better so we know what his expectations are.”
Mellan pointed out that “there’s two other murals that may be coming into that, but right now it’s the Valumart one that’s most pressing.”
Deputy-mayor Jim Locke inquired as to whether it was a matter of finding an artist to take on the project.
Mellan informed that two artists have looked at the mural and “both agreed it has to be completely redone.”
It was estimated that it would cost approximately $10,000 to redo the mural.
“It’s gone past the point of repairing or touching up,” said Mellan. “The backing is rotting.”
Bringing everything to point, mayor Steven Byvelds said, “I think the mural committee should be responsible for telling council when that mural has to come down.”
“I guess the best time to look at it is in the fall,” he added. “It’s ours to look after and we’ll look after it.”
On April 16th, South Dundas Mural committee representative Jane Cox reported that “this will be another busy year for the murals.”
She reiterated the unhappy news Mellan brought to council earlier in the month, saying that “the hardest part of this whole mural project is letting them go. In the committee’s 2011 Year End Report it was recommended for the ‘Aerial View of Morrisburg’ mural on Valumart be turned back to the township and allowed to age graciously.”
“As a result, the township is in the process of coming up with a decommissioning plan for this and any subsequent murals,” she added.
In addition, the two other murals which Mellan mentioned might be on their way out are the ‘North Side – Main Street’ mural on the Giant Tiger building and the ‘South Side – Main Street’ mural on the Upper Canada Playhouse building.
The two murals do not, Cox revealed, have champions to lobby for them.
“From a distance,” said Cox, “they are still appealing but we have a very narrow window before we lose them.”
“We do have short and long term recommendations for their maintenance but both require funds to accomplish the goals.”
“As a result the life expectancy of these murals are unknown but this fall they very well may be part of the decommissioning process,” she continued. “We hope not.”
As for some of the other more fortunate murals, Cox informed that “the ‘Homecoming’ mural, championed by the Morrisburg Legion, and the ‘New Canadian’ mural, championed by the Kolff Family, will have their maintenance done by Pierre Hardy this summer. Both will have some touch-ups done with an overall varnish coating applied.”
“The maintenance of the ‘Caldwell’ mural in Iroquois will be more labor intensive,” she continued. “A lot of water damage has been done over the years and as a result the bracing behind the mural will have to be replaced. When that is done Mike Kelly, champion and owner of Magnus Restoration in Iroquois, will be doing his magic with the mural.”
Cox also pointed out that “the mural committee’s mandate of the restoration and maintenance of our standing mural collection is drawing to an end and should be completed by year end.”
“By then we hope to place a plaque close to each mural acknowledging each mural’s champion. Again, we would like to thank everyone that has stood beside us with this endeavor including the support shown by the Morrisburg Leader.”