Regeneration dedicated to John Phare and wildfire fighters

Public Art

A dedication ceremony for Regeneration, an artwork by Gordon Halloran, took place outdoors by the Sechelt Visitor Centre last Saturday afternoon. The artist, District of Sechelt Mayor Bruce Milne and the Sunshine Coast Community Forest’s David Lasser spoke to the public and thanked many contributors to the project.

The sculpture, two charred cedar trees, is dedicated to all those who protect the forest from wildfires and especially to tree faller John Phare, who lost his life fighting the Old Sechelt Mine fire. In honour of Phare’s memory, eight members of the Wildfire Management Forest Service crew were also on hand to watch while Forest Protection staff member Stephen Gemmell unveiled the memorial plaque.

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Between the charred cedars of Regeneration, an artwork by Gordon Halloran, Bruce Milne chats with Forest Service crew at a dedication ceremony July 16. - Jan DeGrass Photo

Milne recalled the tragic events of the previous July’s wildfire and commented how the effects had spread out into the community to Phare’s family and to the public. When Halloran presented his work at the Sechelt Arts Festival last October, the District decided to find a place for it and to gather the necessary public support and funding.

Lasser described the process of finding just the right charred trees from the wildfire area, “the ones that spoke to Gord.” He also noted how many helpers, loggers, contractors, crane and helicopter crew contributed their time to the cause.

“John was a special guy,” Lasser said. “He was well known to us and a wonderful guy to work with. He touched a lot of people.”

Though they are a grim reminder of the wildfire, the two stumps also give promise of future forests. After unveiling the plaque, Halloran and Lasser planted a new cedar seedling between the stumps. The two shells of trees are now bolted into twin granite blocks and stand within a concrete circle. Halloran was happy with the installation at this permanent location and the work is now included in the District of Sechelt’s public art collection.

To fund the project, Milne emphasized the amount of public support the district received, and the plaque acknowledges financial support from Alan Hemstreet, SSC Properties Ltd., Sunshine Coast Credit Union and WCB Ltd.

The net cost to the district for the artwork acquisition was $8,750, with an additional budget of $4,000 approved for installation, communications manager Connie Jordison said after the dedication.

While final costs for the installation were not known, Hemstreet, who coordinated the installation of the piece, will also donate any amounts over the budget, Jordison said.

The Sunshine Coast Credit Union and WCB Ltd. donated cash contributions towards the district’s acquisition and display of the work, while SSC Properties Ltd. provided support to the artist in the creation of the piece, she said.

– With files from John Gleeson

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