A flashy paint job on the former school board building on Shuswap Street has been drawing lots of attention from passersby. - Image credit: Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer

Bright spot added to Salmon Arm street

Paint coat of many colours adorns former school board building.

A Rubik’s Cube?

A Lego creation?

Those are a couple of musings expressed about the brightly painted former home of the school board office in the 100 block of Shuswap Street.

Red, yellow, green and orange blocks of paint radiate from the formerly beige exterior walls.

Owner Bill Laird told the Observer his colourful plan was simple.

“That building is a square box. So I wanted to do something different that would make it stand out and add a bit of colour to town. I think it’s good for the town to have a few buildings that are a little bit different.”

He says he’s not at liberty to say publicly yet which businesses will be making the building home, but the colour is unrelated.

Regarding the choice of hue, he says:

“There are lots of cities in the world that have bright colours on buildings… Much of Salmon Arm has been beige for years, so I guess I thought it was an opportunity to have a bright spot and a landmark in town.”

Laird is chair of the city’s design review panel, which advises city council on the design merits of development permit applications filed with the city.

The panel’s guidelines come from the official community plan. One of those guidelines “is the use of local materials and earth-tone colours to reflect Salmon Arm’s natural setting.” Another makes reference to corner sites, stating: “…Locate the principal building at the corner, and design as a reference point or landmark.”

While Laird’s building may not reflect the most common earth tones, it will likely become a landmark.

Existing buildings can be painted and have their windows replaced without a building permit, so the design review panel has not been involved. Laird notes that the panel doesn’t look at colours but more at features such as parking, access and landscaping.

“It’s feedback for the council, they just want to make sure some local folks have looked at it and have given them comment.”

Kevin Pearson, the city’s director of development services, notes there is no requirement for consistent themes or colours in the city and says there are many. He calls the design guidelines only “encouraging statements.”

Laird said the building was in need of a face lift and major overhaul. Along with replacing the windows and painting it, he will be installing an elevator and a handicapped washroom to make it accessible to all.

He adds that he’s not finished with the outside yet.

“I’m going to do one other thing, but I’ll leave it as a surprise,” Laird says.

“We have to keep moving our little town forward.”

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