COLUMN: The Brackendale Art Gallery should be public

In Squamish, the word “community” is synonymous with one place — the Brackendale Art Gallery. 

Thor and Dorte Froslev, owners of the gallery, have been a pillar in Squamish for decades. In fact, one could argue Thor single-handedly pushed for Brackendale to be what it is today — a vibrant community involved in everything from civic affairs to the arts. 

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I could list all the things the Froslevs have inspired but this is more than that.  

When it comes to imagining the future of the district, the same question remains — how are we creating added value? 

We’ve all heard the news: Thor put the hand-crafted building up for sale. But have we stopped to think what this means for the future of our beloved community?

In my humble opinion, the BAG adds a lot of value to the growing region.

Full disclosure, I’m what is considered a newcomer to Squamish. I’m from a small island in the Caribbean and grew up in Lower Mainland suburbia: I was perpetually seeking that feeling of community — of home — not realizing I had to create it. That is what makes Squamish unique to me; people build community, whether you’re a newcomer or one of the old guard who has seen this town develop beyond what you imagined. 

Once a longshoreman by trade, Thor understood the making of a community from the start. He put down his roots, not only creating home but also fellowship. He calls the BAG a “privately owned community centre.”

That stuck with me. There is no doubt in my mind, the BAG serves as a public institution. Private ownership cannot guarantee the hand-crafted building remains accessible or continues its community outreach. Even if the Froslevs sold privately to a “Good Samaritan” or a “strictly business” character, the very impact of their legacy could be lost. 

We’ve let this responsibility of engagement and resources rest on the backs of the Froslevs. 

The BAG serves as a public amenity and it’s time it was recognized as such. 

The municipal, provincial and federal governments could and should work together to buy the BAG. Or perhaps a charitable public foundation could buy it? 

It is an institution presently supporting Squamish as it changes. It’s a meeting place to come together, share ideas and take part in creating vibrant neighbourhoods. 

This is added value. This is how to embrace the tides of change and evolve. 

The BAG is part of the spirit of Squamish and engages residents like no other space, place or facility. 

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