Known for his wildlife art, the centre that bears his name wants Allan Brooks immortalized on a brick canvas.
The Allan Brooks Nature Society is hoping to have a downtown mural of its namesake created and asked the City of Vernon for funds for the project.
In a letter to council, Aaron Deans, the executive director for the society, requested financial support in principle for an Allan Brooks mural up to the amount of $25,000 “which would facilitate an application submission to the Canadian Heritage Legacy Fund, which is due Sept. 30.”
Deans wrote in a one-page submission that a Brooks mural would commemorate the 125th anniversary of Brooks creating the first-ever illustrated field guide to birds of British Columbia.
“It would also acknowledge the many great contributions he made to the scientific community of his day and of present times as well,” wrote Dean of Brooks, who died in 1946 after spending a majority of his life living in Okanagan Landing.
After some confusion and debate, the city agreed to donate $15,000 from its arts reserve fund if the society is successful in its grant application.
“I’m fully supportive of the Allan Brooks Nature Centre but I’m not entirely sure what their goals are with this mural project,” said Coun. Buffy Baumbrough. “This is an organization that has come to us in the past asking for money to help with their operations. I’d rather see the $25,000 go towards their operations.”
Coun. Patrick Nicol said the project was a natural for council to work with the Downtown Vernon Association, but expressed concerns about the short timeline council had to meet the request.
“The date is so close we don’t have the ability to say ‘yes,’” said Nicol. “This just came to us. It’s pretty impossible to meet this deadline even though it’s a very worthy idea.”
Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe thought the society was looking for a matching donation. It was O’Keefe who made the motion to donate $15,000 if the society’s grant application was accepted. Her motion was unanimously passed.
Earl Hansen, executive director of the DVA, was in attendance at Monday’s council meeting. He explained that downtown mural’s cost about $7 a square metre, depending on the size.
The latest mural of Axel Ebring, a local potter, created on the side of a building on 32nd Avenue, cost $21,000.
City of Vernon finance manager Kevin Bertles said the city has paid for the last two mural projects of Ebring and artist Sveva Caetani.
Hansen said all of the murals in downtown Vernon help brand the city.
“When people talk about our community, they talk about the mural program,” said Hansen. “We can’t rest on our laurels. We need to look to add murals that are appropriate to the historical theme. A candidate like Allan Brooks makes good sense.”
Hansen said no specific site has been selected for a proposed Brooks mural, though several building owners, he said, have contacted his office about having a mural painted on their walls.