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Parks Canada holds off on deciding guidelines for murals

There was no word on when the decision would come through.
Artist Five Eight works on his piece on the Bear’s Paw Bakery alley wall during the inaugural UpLift! Jasper Mural Festival in 2022.

The deadline for Parks Canada’s Planning and Development Advisory Committee’s (PDAC) decision on the Jasper palette came last week.

However, Parks Canada has issued a statement indicating that no actual decision had yet been made.

“Parks Canada is supportive of the UpLift! Mural Festival and looks forward to its continued success. Changes were needed to existing guidelines to permit murals and works of art on the exterior of buildings in Jasper, and to ensure that the application process for those interested in creating a mural is clear, fair and simple,” the statement read.

The statement came during the last week of the UpLift! Jasper Mural Festival. The festival proceeded with its third annual public art offerings despite its plans seemingly being put in limbo only a few months ago.

In March, Parks Canada proposed policies that would mean new murals would have to adhere to Jasper’s architectural motif of specific colours. The motif was developed in the 1990s, long before the festival made its first impact on exterior walls of numerous buildings in the townsite.

The proposal was met with much consternation from the creative community in Jasper and beyond.

Jasper National Park Manager of Realty and Municipal Services Erin Saunders confirmed that the proposal was meant to formalize the process of approving murals and to ensure that it is put into the motif that murals are recognized as a permissible activity.

“Parks Canada has a responsibility to ensure that commercial development and development proposals are evaluated openly and transparently and are consistent with Parks Canada's mandate and policies,” she said at the time.

She added that Parks Canada has been supportive of the murals.

“In March 2024, Parks Canada listened to feedback from community members and artists on the proposed amendments to the Town of Jasper Architectural Motif Guidelines,” Parks Canada’s statement continued.

“Based on the input received, Parks Canada will ensure that murals are formally permitted within the guidelines, whether as part of UpLift! Mural Festival or independently commissioned by a commercial or institutional leaseholder.”

The Fitzhugh reached out to organizers of the UpLift! Mural Festival for their comment. No response was received before press time.

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