Two fire hydrants in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, painted with creative designs. (Michael Briones photo)

Two fire hydrants in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, painted with creative designs. (Michael Briones photo)

Qualicum Beach council votes down idea of colourfully painted fire hydrants

Councillors raise safety concerns

Qualicum Beach council has voted against a recommendation to paint the town’s fire hydrants with creative and colourful designs.

The select committee on parks and recreation made the recommendation to council for consideration at its Nov. 18 meeting but it did not pass.

Coun. Robert Filmer felt it was a good project that could involve arts groups, including students at Kwalikum Secondary.

“Making our hyrdants a little more pretty or beautiful I think is definitely worth the discussion, especially if it’s going to be an arts club… if an arts club or an arts class is going to take it over, it’s not going to look bad,” said Filmer. “It’s going to look interesting. It’s going to be fun and it’s going to have some character.”

The committee, led by Filmer, got the idea from other municipalities in the province that have already done this. One of them is the City of Quesnel, which has painted its fire hydrants and turned them into tourist attraction.

READ MORE: Qualicum Beach’s Bard to Broadway group may stage shows outdoors

Mayor Brian Wiese, a former firefighter, expressed concern.

“You know in the middle of the night when you’re driving around looking, panicking, looking for a hydrant, if you don’t know what you’re looking for it’s very hard,” Wiese said. “Everyone knows when they’re going down the street they’re looking for something red. When things get painted different colours you have no idea what the colour is going to be. And then it could be, you know, something white against white fence and you don’t see it.”

Wiese said art is a good idea but suggested the hydrants should be left alone.

Filmer said other jurisdictions that have done this has set strict parameters about the colours that can be used.

“They can’t be dark colours,” said Filmer. “It has to be very prominent. It has to make sure that the fire hydrant is still known.”

Coun. Teunis Westbroek also raised the issue about safety and preferred to leave the red colour.

Coun. Scott Harrison wants to see the downtown core enhanced aesthetically and likes the idea of collaborating with groups in the community on public art. But he says it doesn’t have to be just the fire hydrants.

Some hydrants in the area have actually been painted with creative designs but it is not known who did the painting.

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