The artist took her duty to the bur­geon­ing Ci­ty­place com­mu­nity to heart. She found a lot of peo­ple travelling through by them­selves: ear­phones in, grab­bing lunch to go. She wanted to give them a desti­na­tion, a sense of place.

Canadian Art - - Legacy -

floor area and has ap­plied to in­crease the per­mit­ted den­sity by at least 1,500 square me­tres. For some sense of scale, First Cana­dian Place, the 72-storey mon­ster at Bay and King Streets in Toronto that, for now, car­ries the ti­tle of Canada’s Tallest Sky­scraper, is 250,849 square me­tres. The St. Lawrence Mar­ket South build­ing—to lend some con­crete sense to that bot­tom end—is 10,355 square me­tres.

“Sec­tion 37 ben­e­fits are ne­go­ti­ated on a case-by-case ba­sis with de­vel­op­ers,” says Gregg Lin­tern, the di­rec­tor of com­mu­nity plan­ning for Toronto and East York. Un­like some cities where the dollars-and-cents side of den­sity bonus­ing is for­mal­ized with a per-square-me­tre rate, in Toronto, he tells me, “there are no set ne­go­ti­a­tions or per­cent­ages.” It’s dif­fi­cult for the City to speak in specifics, Lin­tern says, ten­der­ing only: “the City seeks to cap­ture a por­tion of the ap­praised value of the ad­di­tional den­sity re­quested by the de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­cant.” That’s the same line reprinted else­where in City lit­er­a­ture. A 2014 re­port re­view­ing Sec­tion 37 in Toronto lets in a lit­tle more light, ex­plain­ing that “the City’s been able to se­cure be­tween 10 and 20 per cent of the in­crease in land value for most de­vel­op­ments.”

How that money gets used is de­ter­mined by a process that iden­ti­fies com­mu­nity needs and pri­or­i­ties in con­sul­ta­tion with the city coun­cil­lor, lo­cal res­i­dents and var­i­ous other mu­nic­i­pal de­part­ments. The pack­age of ne­go­ti­ated ben­e­fits might in­clude things like park im­prove­ments and af­ford­able hous­ing. Toronto coun­cil­lor Joe Cressy tells me that 20 per cent of ev­ery Sec­tion 37 deal in his ward—which in­cludes Block 31— goes to­ward af­ford­able hous­ing. The ben­e­fit pack­age might also in­clude pub­lic art, as was the case with the build­ing wrapped in a Vito Ac­conci fence across from my apart­ment near Fort York. Per­due es­ti­mates that in the last five years, Sec­tion 37 has trig­gered roughly $45 mil­lion in pub­lic art in Toronto.

If art is cho­sen as a fit­ting amenity, the de­vel­oper may com­mis­sion a pub­lic art­work on-site for the agreed-upon value, pro­vide cash-in-lieu for an off-site pro­ject, or some com­bi­na­tion of the two. With the off-site op­tion, the City has the abil­ity to pool money for a larger pro­ject on City land any­where within the same ward. Trump Tower in Toronto, for ex­am­ple, in­cludes a Michael Snow light­work stretch­ing ver­ti­cally up its ex­te­rior and a more than 500,000-piece mo­saic by Stephen An­drews in its porte-cochère; the de­vel­op­ment also helped pay for an aquatic cen­tre in Re­gent Park, one of Toronto’s Neigh­bour­hood Im­prove­ment Ar­eas “re­quir­ing spe­cial at­ten­tion.” If the de­vel­oper de­cides in­stead to com­mis­sion work on-site, the Toronto Pub­lic Art Com­mis­sion, a vol­un­teer panel from the art and ur­ban de­sign com­mu­ni­ties, re­views the de­vel­oper’s pub­lic art plan and en­sures that the selec­tion process, be it open com­pe­ti­tion or by in­vi­ta­tion, is suit­able.

Dickie took her duty to the bur­geon­ing Ci­ty­place com­mu­nity to heart. When she was de­sign­ing her pro­posal—one of more than 100 sub­mis­sions the City re­ceived for the pro­ject—she vis­ited the site al­most daily. She’d hang out in the gro­cery store to get a sense of who lived there. She found a lot of peo­ple travelling through by them­selves: ear­phones in, talk­ing on the phone, grab­bing lunch to go. She wanted to give them a desti­na­tion. She wanted to an­chor a sense of place.

Stand­ing at the perime­ter fence, ap­prox­i­mat­ing for me where her sculp­ture will one day sit, us both trans­pos­ing the scene imag­i­nar­ily over a giant pit car­peted by 2016’s first good win­ter snow­fall, Dickie says she’s not ex­actly sure what hap­pens next, pro­ce­du­rally speak­ing. We do know, though, that by sum­mer 2019 (again, con­struc­tion per­mit­ting), the character of this neigh­bour­hood will be thor­oughly trans­formed—thanks in part to her work here.

Com­par­ing mu­nic­i­pal pro­grams across Canada, I started to see the field as a sort of grand ur­ban ex­per­i­ment, with some­times-rad­i­cal per­mu­ta­tions on the same ba­sic struc­ture re­gard­ing the roles of the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors in the mak­ing of pub­lic art. Each city formed a unique set of an­swers to the ques­tions: ought the City set aside a por­tion from its own con­struc­tion projects for pub­lic art? From which projects? How much? What should be re­quired of pri­vate de­vel­op­ers? One cul­ture man­ager ad­mir­ingly called Toronto’s Per­due “en­cy­clo­pe­dic” when it comes to pub­lic art pol­icy in Canada, and even Per­due, over one of our many con­ver­sa­tions, told me some­thing to the ef­fect of: I’m re­ally not sure which model works best.

In Mon­treal, thanks to Que­bec’s long-stand­ing “Poli­tique d’in­té­gra­tion des arts à l’ar­chi­tec­ture,” ev­ery build­ing pro­ject that re­ceives pro­vin­cial money and will be open to the pub­lic ded­i­cates a per­cent­age of the to­tal con­struc­tion cost to pub­lic art. Projects cost­ing be­tween $150,000 and $400,000, for in­stance, must set aside 1.75 per cent. The scale slides up from there, so that, at the high end, projects cost­ing more than $5 mil­lion must con­trib­ute $67,500 for the first $5 mil­lion and 0.5 per cent on any ad­di­tional costs. Al­ter­nately, as Michèle Pi­card, head of Mon­treal’s pub­lic art bureau, ex­plains, if the pro­ject gen­er­ates only a small amount of money, there’s a com­mit­tee that ac­quires smaller works—a paint­ing or sculp­ture, for ex­am­ple—for the space.

The City of Mon­treal it­self doesn’t have an of­fi­cial per cent for pub­lic art pol­icy on mu­nic­i­pal projects; Pi­card de­scribes it as “a habit.” “Not ev­ery pro­ject needs to have pub­lic art,” she says. “We pre­fer to work dif­fer­ently.” Over the past 10 years, her team has co­op­er­ated with other mu­nic­i­pal de­part­ments to in­volve them­selves at the start of large build­ing projects to iden­tify suit­able op­por­tu­ni­ties for pub­lic art. A ma­jor road re­con­struc­tion pro­ject at PIE-IX and Henri Bourassa Boule­vards, a bridge en­ter­ing the city, was treated to some­thing ma­jor: a $1.1 mil­lion, full-scale Fer­ris wheel sculp­ture ti­tled La véloc­ité des lieux by BGL (some prac­tices have be­come dar­lings of the arena).

Since per­mit­ting in Mon­treal is scat­tered across the 19 in­di­vid­ual bor­oughs, there is cur­rently no over­ar­ch­ing pol­icy about con­tri­bu­tions from pri­vate de­vel­op­ers in ex­change for bonus height or den­sity. Mon­treal may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its own condo boom, but to-date, bor­ough coun­cil­lors

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