Teri Towner

Name

Teri Towner

Jurisdiction

Coquitlam

Running for

City/Town Council

Party or Slate (if applicable)

N/A

Funding

Do you know how much your local government invests in the arts? Would you commit to advocating for an increase in that cultural investment for arts, culture, and heritage in your community, within the capacity of your elected body?

As a sitting councilor and chair of the Culture Services Advisory Committee, I have been intimately involved in ensuring that our city provides generous support to the arts-and-culture community in Coquitlam. We annually provide significant funds to the Evergreen Cultural Centre, Place des Arts, the Coquitlam Heritage Society and the Coquitlam Public Library; by council policy, we automatically give them an inflation increase and we also regularly fund special requests. I pledge to continue these annual increases. In addition, during my first term in office, I was a strong supporter of the construction of a new outdoor stage at Lafarge Lake. That stage, now called the TD Community Plaza, has proven to be a wonderful addition to the city’s cultural life, as it has provided a setting for everything from amateur youth theatre (Place des Arts summer program) to professional concerts (the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, funding for which is renewed annually, with my support).

Advocacy

If elected, will you take an active role on behalf of your local government in championing the growth of arts, culture and heritage in your community? Why?

I pledge to continue the strong advocacy that I have demonstrated during my first term on council. As an active volunteer myself in many areas of community development, I have hands-on experience in-- and knowledge of-- the tremendous benefits to a community that the arts and culture can provide. Specifically, arts and culture activities provide not only wonderful opportunities for personal growth, but also for community involvement.

I am very proud to have spearheaded the Canada 150 Mosaic Mural project in Coquitlam. I was honoured to be in the role of Coquitlam’s Canada 150 Community Leader for FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities). In this role I acted as a touchpoint for Coquitlam, receiving and sharing information about local and national events for Canada’s 150th anniversary. I enthusiastically promoted and participated in all the local Canada 150-related events.

A Canada-wide project came to my attention: the Canada 150 Mosaic. Neighbouring municipalities were signed up to participate but Coquitlam wasn’t. There were many reasons for this but there’s only one opportunity to have the community participate in a project like this. So, I got to work making phone calls, holding meetings and building support. It took a few weeks – and a LOT of advocacy - but it worked! Although it was very challenging trying to get it to Coquitlam the perseverance paid off and last October I was part of a very special unveiling! It’s beautiful!

Over 550 people signed up and came out to join in on an hour-long session to paint a tile. Many came as families – all generations – from children to grandparents. This project brought people together, built up community pride, got people involved. And the result: a beautiful, meaningful, permanent piece of legacy artwork for our city. It was an absolutely wonderful occasion to unveil the Canada 150 Mosaic Mural in Coquitlam! This large commemorative piece of public art is proudly displayed in our City Centre Public Library and will be enjoyed and celebrated by thousands for decades to come!

Education

Students with an education rich in the arts have better grade point averages and are three times more likely to get a degree. Will you commit to making the arts a critical component of every child’s education? If so, how?

As a candidate for city council, and not school board, this question is not applicable to me.

Cultural Growth

How will your local government maintain or grow its investment in cultural programs in your community?

During my first term in office, I was proud and honoured to be part of council’s unanimous support of a new Arts, Culture and Heritage Strategic Plan (ACHSP), which lays out a roadmap for expansion of services throughout the community. https://www.coquitlam.ca/docs/default-source/recreation-parks-culture-documents/plan.pdf. The ACHSP provides a planning framework with five overarching goals and objectives associated with each goal, all aimed at building cultural-development capacity both within the City and externally through community organizations. Two areas of focus, which are especially important to me, are youth and diverse communities, which can both contribute significantly to building cultural vibrancy.

Cultural Spaces

Will you work to ensure access to affordable, sustainable cultural spaces for artists and arts organizations? If so, how?

Absolutely, yes. I will fully support and, moreover, will advocate for three specific goals of the aforementioned ACHSP dealing with provision of spaces, specifically: a) Riverview Artifacts, Archival Records & Other Heritage Collections, for which the city will develop a long-term strategy to acquire, preserve and make accessible important community heritage collections; b) Visual Arts Display Space, the lack of which will be addressed by increasing display space in civic facilities, such as community centres and other public or private spaces; c) the Innovation Centre (an underutilized civic facility next to the Evergreen Cultural Centre), for which the city will engage a specialized consultant to do a feasibility analysis to determine the best possible arts-and-culture use.

Cultural Tourism

How do you propose to improve cultural tourism in your community?

During preparation of the aforementioned Arts, Cultural and Heritage Strategic Plan, the city conducted a cultural-mapping project, the results of which informed the final report but have not been used for anything else. I will champion the use of that information to initialize an interactive cultural-mapping function to the city’s general and tourism websites.

Key Issues

What do you feel is the single most important issue relating to arts, culture, and heritage in your community, and what action will you take to address it?

The lack of a comprehensive museum is an obvious issue. Yes, we have Mackin House and, yes, we have long-range plans for making our Riverview collection available for public viewing. But I believe we should start planning for a heritage centre that may combine museum-display, education, workshop, seminar and performance space in one significant structure. I will advocate for this during the coming term on council.

Participation

How do you personally engage in the cultural life of the community? (e.g. involvement on committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)

As noted above, I am chair of the City of Coquitlam’s Culture Services Advisory Committee, and often attend arts-and-culture events at the Evergreen Cultural Centre, Place des Arts and other locations.As also mentioned, I advocate strongly for arts and culture initiatives and projects.