A long existing traffic problem in Castlegar is being solved in a unique and creative way.
Traffic speeding through the school zone on 24th Street leading to Kinnaird Elementary School has frustrated crossing guards, parents and teachers for years. Part of the problem is that the school sits on a hill above a long retaining wall and is not very visible. It used to be easy to forget there was a school there.
But not anymore. A vibrant 200 foot mural now covers that retaining wall reminding drivers and the community that children are nearby.
The idea for a mural has been in the works for years, but it has finally come to fruition under the hand of Melissa Haney, who has two children in the school.
Haney, who graduated from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2006, sketched out the designs and guided the painting. But she says it took many hands to complete the project.
In fact, a hand print from each of the school’s students can be found inside the words “together we are better.”
“It has been a huge community effort to make it happen,” said Haney.
Grade 6 and 7 students were tasked with helping chalk a grid on the wall and fill in the designs after they were outlined. Adult volunteers helped in the evenings, other students in the daytime. Teachers reported students were clamoring for a turn to work on the mural.
“I felt strongly that this was something our community needed and it was a saving grace for me as well,” said Haney. “To be able to do this during the pandemic — it was something where we could be outside and social and be safe, but still come together.”
The mural features Kootenay sights such as the Brilliant Dam, sturgeon, sockeye salmon, Kootenay and Columbia Rivers and the Valhalla Mountain Range. It also showcases the school’s motto and other quotes.
And of course, SLOW and SCHOOL ZONE in bold and bright fonts.
Funding for the project came from a gaming grant through the school’s PAC. Due to the cancellation of field trips and other events during the pandemic, grant funds were sitting unused and school beautification was one of the allowable uses for the moeny. Oglow’s Paint also provided supplies at a discounted rate.
“The sense of community, the joy it’s brought to not only everyone who has had a hand in working on it, but to every person who drives by makes my heart so happy,” said Haney.
The community will be able to enjoy the mural for years to come as they — slowly — drive by the school
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