By Camille Aubin

The Village of Radium Hot Springs recently unveiled an impressive piece of art in its new roundabout.

The funding provided from the provincial and federal governments for the $11.9 million roundabout  (built between June 2020 and October 2020) included the opportunity for an art piece in the middle. “When they (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure) decided to do some traffic management here at the crossroads, the traffic circle became the option of choice. They built it, and right from the beginning, the Ministry of Transportation (MOTI) indicated that here was an opportunity for us to have something iconic, something that screams ‘You’ve arrived, you are in Radium Hot Springs at the gateway to the beautiful Columbia Valley.’ That is where it all started,” said Raidum mayor Clara Reinhardt.

Photo by Tourism Radium & Cerebros Productions

This visual work of art was enabled through the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) program managed by the B.C. Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport in partnership with the MOTI. Nearly $300,000 was spent on this project. “Alongside the federal government, we were happy to contribute funding to this new roundabout, which improves traffic flow and enhances safety for drivers travelling through Radium Hot Springs,” said Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming.

Radium Hot Springs put out a Request for Proposal seeking a vision fo the artwork to adorn the roundabout. A selection process was conducted among the five councillors. The committee received a total of three submissions, including the eventually selected one, submitted by the Meikle brothers. “While we explored the other options, which showcased wood and wildlife, council was unanimous in the decision,” said Reinhardt. 

The three brothers — Adam, Christopher, and Joshua Meikle — representing Salmon-Arm based companies Idea 64 Projects and Meikle Studios then got to work creating and install the piece of artwork known as ‘Bighorns’.

Adam said during the unveiling: “My brother came into my studio after work one day, and he brought me this opportunity, and we started pondering. I was staying up night after night trying to think what is Radium Hot Springs? What would the village like? I went down lots of avenues and then came to the ram. It was iconic to this region, and it is that natural golden ratio of the Fibonacci sequence that is pleasing in nature and in art. Even DaVinci was kind of obsessed with that motion, with that shape. So we decided that we would go with something neat.” 

Adam added that he came up with numerous ideas for the piece involving rams, and each time, he removed the head from the entire plan because it looked dead or demonic.

Built out of COR10 weather resistant steel, the impressive structure is 20 feet tall, 40 feet wide, and 20 feet deep. “This weathering steel will only get nicer with age and represent the ruggedness of the mountains and the hot springs being natural and always never painted, always natural. So thank you Radium Hot Springs. Thank you to Ideas 64 and Bolt Electric for making it even more beautiful at night than it is during the day,” he said. 

Those driving through the roundabout after dark may be surprised to see this massive structure aglow with lights of its own.

“The result has exceeded our very high expectations. The artist and the fabrication team were very easy to work with and the whole project was a very positive experience,” expressed Reinhardt.

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrisson Columbia River–Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok, Shuswap Indian Band chief Barbara Cote, RDEK Area F director and RDEK board vice-chair Susan Clovechok, Invermere mayor Al Miller, and Radium councillors Tod Logan and Mike Gray (who coordinated the event) were all present at the unveiling.

“What a beautiful piece of art, that I have the chance to see for the first time,” said chief Cote looking at the big horns behind her. 

“I want to congratulate the village of Radium for all the hard work that went into making the roundabout project a reality. Whether it is traffic created by the TransCanada Highway closures, or just folks coming to visit our incredible valley, the roundabout will make travel safer and flow more efficiently. The roundabout’s centrepiece could not have been a better choice; the Radium bighorn sheep’s horns will stand as a testimony to this iconic species.” said Doug Clovechok in a recent press release.

A month-long extended TransCanada closure requiring motorists to take Highways 93 and 95 as an alternative route began on April 12 and will extend through May 14. In addition to that closure, additional 24-hour closures will occur on weekdays between May 17 and May 31. The closed section of the Trans Canada is between Golden and Castle Junction and is roughly 4.8-kilometers long. Travellers are advised to allow an additional hour for direct travel.