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Public art to capture Steveston High legacy

Lorie Leung and Tyler Yip hang out with ‘Steveston’s Legacy,’ a sculpture created by Norm Williams. Polygon is planning to further mark the legacy of the fishing village with a public art piece on the site of the old Steveston High. - Richard Lam photo
Lorie Leung and Tyler Yip hang out with ‘Steveston’s Legacy,’ a sculpture created by Norm Williams. Polygon is planning to further mark the legacy of the fishing village with a public art piece on the site of the old Steveston High.
— image credit: Richard Lam photo

The developer planning to change the landscape where Steveston High has long stood is planning to commemorate the site’s history with a public art piece.

Polygon Homes Ltd., which is planning to develop a neighbourhood of townhouses on the site, is budgeting $170,170 for the art project, which will commemorate the half-century-old secondary school.

A call to B.C. artists to submit early proposals closed last Friday.

“Polygon views the history of the high school and its shared history among the lives of thousands over its lifetime as significant, and proposes that it be celebrated through a work of public art,” according to the proposal call.

Steveston Secondary School opened its doors in 1955, starting as a junior secondary, and ending as a full-fledged high school.

Polygon noted the school had a long history of community involvement. In 1988, a salmon hatchery was built at the school, allowing students to participate in local ecology.

In 1983, students sponsored an orphanage in Guatemala by fundraising throughout the school year. Groups of students would visit once a year and make improvements to the building.

Today, former students are still active in an alumni association, which holds regular reunions and fundraisers for community projects. Its projects include fundraising for the public artwork Steveston’s Legacy. Created by Norm Williams, the bronzed sculpture outside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery features three figures from the 1930s fishing village.

Polygon is expected to make a shortlist of potential artists later this month, with artwork construction set to begin this fall.

Steveston High merged with Charles E. London Secondary School in 2007, becoming Steveston-London Secondary. The old Steveston High building—at 10440 No. 2 Rd.—has sat vacant ever since.

Last fall Richmond School District officials announced it had sold a 3.2-hectare (eight-acre) section of the site to Polygon for $41.1 million. The remaining two hectares (five acres) will become a public park.

Polygon’s rezoning application is still under review at Richmond City Hall. According to city spokesperson Ted Townsend, there is no definitive timeline for when council will consider the file.

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