I really can’t say enough good things about the Paint Prince Rupert initiative.
People are talking about it everywhere I go, from the grocery store to chance meetings on the street. When I stopped on Sunday to chat with Glen Saunders outside Herby’s, vehicles slowed down to call out thanks and encouragement.
About 20 volunteers came out on Saturday and Sunday to paint Herby’s, McLean & Rudderham, and The Electrician. “We met our goal of three buildings this weekend,” Glen says, “and big kudos to the citizens who came out to help. Next Saturday we’re doing it again, again hoping for two or three buildings. Next Sunday is also the Communities in Bloom cleanup, so however you want to volunteer, just come out and volunteer. Let’s just do whatever it takes.”
Back in February Glen was one of a group invited to speak at a Chamber of Commerce event. “I just talked about the value of paint,” Glen says. “The original intention was to encourage people, but Kathy Bedard from Hecate Strait was there and mentioned that it might be an appropriate project for one of her programs, so they called me afterwards and asked me to come and pitch it to them. It just grew from there, starting with about ten buildings on the list.”
Working with Hecate Strait Employment Development Society, Glen led a project that began with King Koin Laundry, then JVA Family Entertainment and the Moose Hall. That created the buzz in town that allowed for the volunteer effort this past weekend.
“It’s important to know that all of the building owners are paying for their own supplies,” Glen says.
“Our only rule was that they had to pick a brighter colour. Sharon Rothwell at Rona came up with the original palette, with the idea to make the buildings pop and give each business more personality.”
Most of what is needed is for people to come out and volunteer.
“If people like what we’re doing,” Glen says, “and they want to make a cash donation, I’d strongly recommend that they donate money toward the Moose roof. They’ve been working for years, and they’ve raised over $11,000, but they need closer to $30,000. It’s a great community hall in the middle of downtown, let’s get a roof for them.”
“Paint Prince Rupert is a fantastic initiative,” says Jason Scherr, first vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce.
“As a community we need to encourage and thank everybody who participated. If you like what a business has done, go in and tell them that you like it.”
Glen echoes this sentiment of encouragement: “We need to plant the seed. We can’t paint every building in town, but we can show the way and encourage it.”
That was also the intent for a different group that came together over the last month. Tourism Prince Rupert, the Highliner, Inn on the Harbour, Coast Prince Rupert, and The Electrician decided to see what they could do to tidy up the block encompassed by the three hotels – the first impression for arriving air passengers. When the Paint Prince Rupert project came in to paint the Moose Hall and The Electrician this made a dramatic difference, of course, but The Electrician has also now cleared the brush from the lot across the street, and several more improvements are already underway.
“The Paint Prince Rupert project has made a huge improvement,” says Alex Kempenaar, general manager at the Highliner.
“The work The Electrician did made a huge improvement. So now the work that we’re doing on our own building this summer becomes part of a larger initiative, and the value of that work is multiplied for both us and our neighbors.”
“It’s about colour, and pride,” says Glen, “but more than anything it’s about taking care of neighborhoods. If you have a vacant building next door, talk to the owner. Wash the windows when you wash yours. Put in a window display for your store. This isn’t for the tourists. This is for us.”
Still, as I’ve written here before, a nice place to live is always a nice place to visit.