[West Nipissing, ON] – A new mural adds a pop of colour in the West Nipissing Council Chambers. Council unveiled the art on Tuesday, December 19, during their last meeting of the year. The 24-foot illustration was created by Howie Longfellow, a renown local artist who has dotted several West Nipissing neighbourhoods with community-tailored welcome signs. This piece serves as somewhat of a compilation of these previous works.
The celebration also marks the anniversary of Council’s first year in office. Over the past 12 months, Council has implemented some forward-thinking changes in the way they operate, namely the initiation of a 4-year Term Plan. The plan is used to help Council and Administration stay focused on important goals such as economic development and sustainability, advocating and allowing for housing solutions, participating in reconciliation efforts, and listening to residents to offer services that are reflective of their needs, among many other action-oriented projects.
“The hope is that this mural inspires everyone who steps foot in Council Chambers to really consider the people and stories of our community—to respect the residents of all ages and backgrounds, as well as the predecessors who worked hard to build West Nipissing”, explains Mayor Thorne Rochon.
The mural has a very colourful and energetic feel. It illustrates many of the community’s historical sites and traditions. The piece also showcases many aspects of the West Nipissing culture, the wildlife, hunting and fishing, the farms, the food, and landscapes. In conceptualizing a community piece, Howie partakes in community consultations. He documents and finds inspiration in the residents’ stories and anecdotes. He listens to their values and their vision. Longfellow had wanted to create this compilation for a while and is pleased with having it up in Council Chambers, “I like to think it will act as a refection point for Council present and future, like ‘stopping to smell the roses’ as they say. We are fortunate to call West Nipissing ‘home’, we are surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty, generous people and we need to keep that safe.” When asked about his creative process and what this project means to him, Longfellow said, “The idea was to leverage elements from existing welcome signs, then create new elements to represent communities that have yet to be involved in this project. It was a challenge to tie in all of these elements in a pleasing manner. It’s a feeling of gratitude, of all of the many great artists within our community, to be tasked with this piece.”
A new page was created on the municipal website to pay homage to Former Council Members and to share their information in an accessible format.