EDITORIAL – Don’t expect economy to boom because of new mural

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE NEW MURAL on the Lansdowne Street parkade was officially christened Friday and it has accomplished something no other piece of public art has done in Kamloops — near-unanimously positive reviews.

But the big question is, was it worth it?

The mural created by artist Bill Frymire did, after all, cost the taxpayers $166,000.

Acting mayor Kathy Sinclair tried to answer that question, saying during the ceremony that arts increase livability, community safety and business.

Is she right? As the former head of the Kamloops Arts Council, Sinclair well knows the stats around the spinoff effects of art.

It would be a big stretch, however, to suggest that a parkade mural — even this one — will result in a tangible increase in business and a boost to the economy. Things just don’t happen that way and I very much doubt Sinclair was trying to suggest it does.

So, there’s no way to calculate what kind of a return Kamloops taxpayers will get on their investment. But that doesn’t diminish its value.

Improving livability and economic investment in a community is a cumulative enterprise. One work of public art is only one small piece. Clean, well-maintained streets and manicured neighbourhoods, plentiful green spaces, graffiti-free buildings, friendly shop keepers, bountiful recreation and cultural opportunities, low crime rates and so much more make communities attractive places to live and invest in.

And everything shouldn’t be measured in monetary terms. Some things are just nice to have because they make us feel good.

So, the new mural is a great addition to the city and will get its share of positive attention but don’t expect the economy to boom because of it.

But, was it worth it? Absolutely.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (7715 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

8 Comments on EDITORIAL – Don’t expect economy to boom because of new mural

  1. Lois Anne Costello // July 30, 2019 at 4:54 PM // Reply

    I think it is lovely and as I live nearby it downtown I get to admire the mural often when out walking, thank you Mr.Frymire.

  2. John Noakes // July 29, 2019 at 9:32 PM // Reply

    Beauty is only skin deep.

  3. Trish Keegan // July 29, 2019 at 2:18 PM // Reply

    That’s what — $1.75 per Kamloopsian? Well worth it. Brightens my day when I see it! Thanks Mr. Freymire>

  4. David Goar // July 29, 2019 at 12:49 PM // Reply

    Would one even try to put a price on the “David” or the Notre Dame Cathedral. If so WHY?

  5. $ 166,000…and where did you put the remaining $ 800,000 or so?
    But then, on the list of the “cumulatives” certain things have a higher, much higher, priority and to be clear, despite an exhausting search, no community the world over has achieved great success on all them. It is a balance and a trade-off for sure and cliché talking points from a local politician should not, at this point in time of the history of the human race, be a distraction to the harsh realities we face. Regardless, artistically speaking, the “moving tiles” interpretation of the hills at the congruence of the two majestic rivers is absolutely terrific.

  6. Okay, enough for the downtown. I would like to see some attractive art on the North Shore!.
    Bill Frymire does very good work!

  7. Vivian Grant // July 29, 2019 at 9:31 AM // Reply

    Right on, Mel!

  8. Sean McGuinness // July 29, 2019 at 8:26 AM // Reply

    Public “art” is tricky to assess in term of aesthetics, let alone justifying its price. I’m fine with the mural. At least it cloaks an ugly parkade upon which millions were spent.

    Manicured lawns, friendly shopkeepers, graffiti-free buildings? Sounds like the kingdom of Happy Valley. Sorry, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

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