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Board hears appeal of mural decision

Students and staff at Outreach Central school still want a mural of Chief Crowfoot to hang on the wall of the Grier Block.
The school appealed Wednesday the municipal planning commission’s decision to deny a development permit.
“We feel that memorializing this important historic figure is very relevant to the historic nature of this whole area,” Outreach Central wrote in its appeal.
Outreach Central’s plan was to place the six foot wide by 24 foot high painting on the upper northeast corner of the Grier Block.
The MPC denied the application on the basis that at 144 square feet, the painting is well over the allowed 50 square feet or 15 per cent of the exterior wall area.
The Fort Macleod Subdivision and Appeal Board heard the appeal Wednesday in council chambers in the town office.
The appeal board adjourned the hearing after listening to presentations from people on both sides of the issue.
There is no indication yet when the appeal board will reconvene the hearing.
In a letter submitted to the appeal board, Outreach Central school listed 15 reasons it was appealing the MPC’s decision.
Those reasons include:

  • The painting was commissioned and funded by the owner of the Grier Block.
  • Outreach Central was not made aware of any concerns about the mural.
  • Alberta Historic Resources did not oppose the plan.
  • The painting is not a sign.
  • The painting is temporary, and not painted directly on a wall like a typical mural.
  • The art work meets the definition in the town’ by-law of a memorial sign.
  • The art work would memorialize an historic First Nations chief.
  • Memorializing Chef Crowfoot is relevant to the history of the area.
  • The by-law is not clear that the art work may also be considered “theme” signage for the historic downtown.
  • The art work would hang in an alley, which is not a prominent location.
  • Other Canadian towns and cities allow murals depicting historic people and events.

“These are not intended to fool the public into believing that images such as this would have actually existed hanging on a wall historically, but rather to remind and educate the public and tourists about the history of an area,” Outreach Central wrote. “These types of images contribute to the identity of areas, which contain historic buildings. Historic buildings alone offer no clue of the historic people from the era.”

  • Fort Macleod’s historic area does not offer any visual clues about the history of First Nations people in the area.
  • The project by Outreach Central students, most of whom are First Nations, shows the inclusive nature of Fort Macleod.

Outreach Central also noted it was not aware the art work exceeded the maximum allowed size.
Outreach Central teacher Karen Krammer told the appeal board the size could be adjusted to conform.
Outreach Central also noted Chief Crowfoot is an important figure in Fort Macleod’s history.
“It is our view that the display of his image is certainly more reflective of the historic character of the area than, for example, the ghost signs that we understand were recently painted directly on several of the historic buildings in preparation for the filming of ‘Passchendaele’,” Outreach Central wrote. “This was a purely commercial venture that we contend has absolutely nothing to do with the history of Fort Macleod.”
Bill Kells of the Fort Macleod Historic Area Design Review Committee, which recommended to the MPC the application be rejected, said the art work does not “fit.”
“This proposed art work does not support the character of the historic area,” Kells said.
Shawn Patience, who chairs the Fort Macleod Historical Association and the Historic Area Society, agreed with the design review committee.
“I believe their comments are not only worthy but of tremendous value,” Patience told the appeal board.
Patience said Fort Macleod’s provincially designated historic area is a model for other communities.
“The fact there are other non-conforming applications in that (historic) area is no reason to add another one,” Patience said.
Patience praised the design review committee for the work it does.
“It is a tough sell preserving an historic area,” Patience said.
Patience did not agree with Outreach Central the art work can be defined as “memorial signage.”
Patience also noted Fort Macleod recognizes its First Nations history in many ways, including in the Legacy signs around town.
Louise Heric of the design review committee said the group does support art, but not placed on the town’s historic buildings.
“We’re very unique in Fort Macleod,” Heric said. “I truly believe we don’t need the art or painting because the buildings are art themselves.”
Karen Krammer of Outreach Central wondered if a compromise, such as reducing the size of the art work, is possible.
“We would be interested in that,” Krammer said.

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