Edmonton

Petition needed to take down giant bat

Edmonton's giant baseball bat sculpture and lamp post sports figures aren't likely to vanish from 118th Avenue unless residents can collect enough signatures on a petition in support of their removal
The giant baseball bat sits at the intersection of 97th Street and 118th Avenue. (CBC)
Edmonton's giant baseball bat sculpture and lamp post sports figures aren't likely to vanish from 118th Avenue unless residents can collect enough signatures on a petition in support of their removal.

A report to a city council committee Tuesday said the figures can't be taken down without consent from the community. City administration recommended a petition be circulated.

"I've never had a positive comment on the figurines," Joe Holtz from the Alberta Avenue Business Association told the committee.

"People are making general comments that they look awful. What exactly are they up there for? Too much money spent on them."

The figurines and the bat were put up along 118th Avenue in the late 1990s in an attempt to spruce up the street, which has long tried to overcome its reputation as an area plagued by crime, drugs and prostitution.

But people who live in the area want the improvements along the so-called Avenue of Champions removed as they conflict with their attempts to rebrand the area as a centre for artists.

The city's transportation and public works committee reviewed a report from administration on Tuesday that outlines the history and the issues that could arise if the figures were removed.

The figures were funded by a local improvement levy that doesn't expire until 2022. The report says they can't be taken down unless the community agrees.

City administration recommends residents circulate a petition to give council some indication of how much support exists in the community for the removal.

But Mayor Stephen Mandel worried that allowing the community to change its mind could set a precedent.

"What are we opening up here is a way of beginning to look at things in a different way — well, we don't like it, let's petition it to change it, and then we want our money back," he said.

But Gibbons didn't share Mandel's concerns. He said the sports figures won't be tossed in the trash after they are taken down.

"An e-mail came in from a community, Lago Lindo, the one that just had the explosion up there, they would take a lot of these figurines," he said.  "Could take them up into Clareview. There's lots of places that they can be used."

The city spent $455,000 on the sports figurines and the giant bat, as well as entrance signs and banners.