Orillia city council is streets ahead when it comes to supporting Streets Alive.

Councillors voted to support a request of $15,000 in funding for the 2017 edition of Streets Alive. A final decision will be made during budget deliberations after reviewing financial and other documentation.

The 2017 Streets Alive, titled "Maple Masterpieces" will be a project that ties into the sesquicentennials of both the City of Orillia and Canada.

Leslie Fournier, project manager for Streets Alive, called 2017’s edition "the biggest and most exciting cultural tourism project to date," as it’s a celebration 150 years in the making.

"Streets Alive will continue to enhance and draw interest and excitement to all of our public spaces, to make sure that they’re filled with colour, art and creativity that draws people in," she told councillors. "It’s going to be an explosion of activity. There will be no streetscape in any other town across Canada that will be as unique and inviting in 2017 as ours."

The $15,000 would be the largest single sponsorship for Streets Alive, part of a budget of approximately $140,000. The bulk of the budget is taken up by the supplies and labour needed to first create the metal sculpture and then for the artists to use them in turning their visions into reality.

There would be 50 large metal maple street sculptures along Mississaga Street, featuring interpretations of both Canada and Orillia on the respective sides of the piece. A further 50 medium wooden maples would be featured in the windows of various stores and businesses in the downtown, while another 50 small ornaments would hang on an art tree.

The event budgets to essentially break even, with maybe a few hundred dollars left over from year to year, Fournier told councillors during the meeting. The biggest money maker for Streets Alive is the sponsorship of the large maples at $2,000 each, a figure Fournier said was the "threshold" for what local businesses could afford so that all 50 sponsorships would be accounted for.

Perhaps the strongest support for Streets Alive at Monday night’s meeting came from Coun. Ted Emond, who recently attended a meeting on public art in Orillia.

"It’s not good enough for our city to say that we love to have public art. We need to have a policy that is very clear that public art should be part of public buildings, public spaces," he said. "We should be encouraging projects like Streets Alive."

Fournier was quite pleased with the outcome of her deputation.

"From what I can tell, I think they’re ready to support it and do something unique for the 2017 celebrations," she said. "We’re going to have some typical-type things like Canada Day and the New Year’s levee, but because Orillia and Canada share this anniversary, I think we’ve got to bust it out a little bigger."

Being unique has been a goal of Streets Alive over the years. That uniqueness brings people into the city and then gets them circulating throughout the downtown core, hopefully spending money at local businesses as they explore and experience the various pieces of art.

The support of the city – and local residents and visitors – can only help the long-term vitality of the cultural event, which has grown in stature every year.

"It’s really grown over the years and become more and more interactive," Fournier said. "The way I see growing that over the years is offering walking tours for boaters that come in off their boat or people that are staying at hotels. So, to package it as an activity onto itself, but one that can be connected to a full day or full weekend of events."

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