Teresa Waclawik is making the best of a bad situation.
The local artist and James Bay resident has spent the last few days painting a mural on the collection of giant sewage pipes currently taking over Niagara Street.
Part of the McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant project, the forcemain is destined to be a concrete underwater tunnel, carrying sewage from east Saanich, Oak Bay and Victoria from Ogden Point to McLoughlin Point.
Hence, the undersea theme.
Waclawik approached the team behind the project at the information meetings, held back in February at the Victoria Edelweiss Club, and offered up her services.
“I suggested that I do something to make the neighbourhood feel a little bit better about this project, since we have the street closed,” she explains. “I live in the community and I care about what happens here.”
The paint and supplies have been provided by HRP Associates, as a thank you to the community for the six-week-long disruption. Waclawik anticipates she’ll be out with her brushes putting the finishing touches on the school of fish and bright purple octopus for a few more days, weather permitting.
“It is bringing a lot of smiles to folks who live here despite all the nuisance of construction and road closures,” she says. “It’s just amazing to me how art can change something like a dirty old pipe.”
Waclawik’s art has splashed colour on neighbourhood streets before – for years, her mural The Face of Vancouver donned the corner of Cambie and West 18th Street. It was dismantled when the corner store was turned into a JJ Bean coffee shop, a heartbreaker for the longtime painter.
“There’s a difference [here], it’s not going to be destroyed, it’s going to be hidden,” she says, of another project soon to be gone from sight. “And, the joy in this particular project is that it’s just for fun.”
While the pipe – running hundreds of feet from South Turner Street all the way down to where Niagara turns into St. Lawrence Street – is an eyesore, there has been another silver lining to its presence in the neighbourhood.
“There’s no bus running down Niagara,” Waclawik says with a laugh.