The lights that illuminate City Hall need to be replaced and city council has decided that Canada’s sesquicentennial year is the perfect time to get it done. The local Canada 150 legacy project is something city councilors have been committed to, however, the $250,000 budget has now climbed to over half a million dollars – $544,000 to be exact. Despite the soaring price, city council voted 10-2 to move forward with the project.
The new 200-watt LEDs, which will also be installed around the fountain at Confederation Park and in Market Square, will be accompanied by seven digital projectors. The lights can change in colour and intensity, and the projectors will be used to project images onto the building, allowing the city to change things up for holidays and other events. Similar lighting was used during the Tragically Hip concert in Market Square last August and can also be seen on buildings all over the world such as the CN Tower in Toronto, The Arc De Triomph in Paris and The Empire State Building in New York, to name a few.
The lights and projectors themselves exceed the $250,000 budget, coming in at $330,000 but there is also installation, consulting and other costs to consider, leaving the city short by $214,000. The additional money is being taken from budgets for other projects such as lighting the tower of the old fire department which houses Lonestar, mechanical work on John Counter Blvd. and unspent funds from The Grand Theatre.
While there is no question that Kingston is a beautiful city with architecture that should be celebrated and enhanced, $544,000 is a lot of money to spend on something cosmetic. Then again, the lighting and potential for projected light shows could augment tourism and will definitely make this area of downtown more appealing in the evenings. Considering the various aspects of this project, this week we want to know:
Is this good use of city funds?
- No. (71%, 789 Votes)
- Yes. (28%, 312 Votes)
- Not sure. (1%, 12 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,113
In all honesty, when I first heard about this decision, I thought it was an early April Fools joke. Now, having learned more about the project, I’m still not totally convinced that using this huge amount of the city’s money on something that doesn’t guarantee any kind of financial return or go to higher priority projects is the right thing to do, but I am a little bit more on board. The potential for creating interesting art projects, making the downtown a more appealing place in the evenings, and attracting more people – not just tourists but Kingstonians – to our downtown core is never a bad thing, but it’s just so much money. What do you think? Is this a worthwhile endeavor for the City of Kingston? Will this entice you to spend more time downtown or do you think this is a silly waste of money? Drop your illuminating comments off below.
Thanks to Todd Muller Photography for today’s photo.