City of Burnie Gateway Project

Published on 01 March 2024

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  • The Burnie City Council is the benefactor of a $1.25 million grant from the State Government to fund a new Gateway entrance to or city centre.


  • The Council engaged the services of GHD to project manage the State funded Gateway project in early 2023. From this initial engagement, costs for this project have commenced being incurred.


  • The Council engaged with the community for both the Gateway project and our City Centre Urban Plan throughout March 2023 to July 2023 through artist led workshops, face-to-face discussions, workshops, an online survey and presentations to the CBD Reference Group, which is comprised of community representatives. There was also opportunity for the community to provide feedback directly to the Council when the designs were on display in the Council foyer during this period.


  • During the consultation process, over 12,000 people (a representation of 60% of the Burnie community) engaged with the artwork concepts and were informed about the project. This is a high level of interest comparative to other Council projects. While only 152 votes were cast for the Welcome Gesture design, this isn’t uncommon in Burnie where we often conduct community consultation that has a very low active participation rate.


  • There were two points at which the Burnie City Council endorsed the Gateway project design, the first of which was at the Council meeting of 25 July 2023 where the concept design was approved for the Welcome Gesture.


  • Following that decision to accept the Welcome Gesture design, the artist and GHD progressed to detailed design. The detailed design was then considered and approved by the Council in its current state, at the Council meeting in November 2023.


  • There were opportunities for Council to make formal design amendment requests following submission of the concept design and during the detailed design stage of the project. No amendment requests were made during these stages. Upon endorsement of the detailed design by the Council the project progressed to delivery.


  • In late 2023 some within the community have had a strong reaction to the artwork design, and have been calling for the Council to either:
    • Reallocate the funding to another purpose; or
    • Cease the project; or
    • Change the colour of the artwork from yellow to blue.


  • The funding of $1.25 million is being provided for this project by the State Government and as such it cannot be used for any other purpose.


  • With contractual obligations in place, the Council is bound by their decision to progress the artwork in the manner that they approved in November 2023.


  • A change in colour, or any other modifications to the design are not permitted under the contractual arrangements and are therefore not able to be considered without risking the Council and community to legal liability through a breach of contract.


  • The artists have provided the following statement as to why the yellow colour selection is an important and integral feature of their design:


    The colour selection is an important aspect of the work and has been carefully considered both conceptually and formally as an integral element of Welcome Gesture. The colour establishes the work visually in the site, providing the necessary contrast to the surrounds to achieve a ‘statement’ gateway to meet the requirements of the design brief. The colour also enables the work to operate successfully visually, creating  the appearance of movement as vehicles pass by which would not be achievable with a less contrasting colour. The entire premise of the work is based upon the movement of a sweeping hand gesturing welcome. The appearance of movement is created by the repeated form and colour. As described in the detailed design the yellow colour references the roses in the Burnie Gardens and has been carefully selected to contrast against the landscape and sky silhouette. The colour selection distinctly stands out against the backdrop of surrounding structures, underscoring visibility and symbolising positivity and energy.

    Changing the colour will be detrimental to the work both physically and conceptually, compromising the visual experience of Welcome Gesture and diminishing the conceptual basis of the design. Presentation and context are paramount for the success of the work as a statement gateway. To achieve our artistic vision for the work we maintain the colour choice is significant and appropriate.

    Geoff Farqhuhar-Still and David Hamilton

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    Image: An artists' impression of the $1.25m Gateway project

  • Since this matter has become contentious within the community, the Council has been reminded of their contractual obligations for the State Government grant funding the Gateway project and for the formal engagement of the artists, which commenced upon endorsement of the concept design in July 2023.


  • An important consideration for the Council and community that was discussed openly was the risks associated with not delivering the project. In essence the Council, and therefore the community, would then be liable to pay for the expenditure incurred for the project as it would no longer be eligible for the grant funds.The Council considered this advice in their decision making.


  • The financial risk currently stands at $650,000 for the current costs incurred but is in excess of $1.25 million (the value of the project) should the Council be found to be in breach of contract.


  • It is an important reminder to the community however that we are genuine when we engage with you. We want you to tell us your views during our consultation processes, so that we can take everyone’s views into account.


  • Our community members however need to leverage these opportunities to ensure that they participate and their views can be considered.


  • I also need to correct the record in relation to contact between the Mayor and the artists in the lead in to the Council meeting on Tuesday night. I have confirmed that the Mayor attempted to contact both artists by telephone and sent both texts about the proposal to delay the project for a fortnight and discuss a change of colour.


  • I am also aware that various threats have been made by community members to damage the work once installed. This is completely unacceptable to make threats of this kind which amount to threats of criminal conduct.


  • While some may criticise the process, the facts are that there has been an extensive public consultation process.Council has made key decisions at two points and on this basis, contracts have been entered. Our contractors, GHD and the artists have behaved professionally throughout this process and do not deserve to be publicly attacked as they have been recently. It is time to stop this nonsense and proceed with our contractual obligations, respectfully and lawfully.
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