The future of the Jasper Royal Canadian Legion, a popular venue for local musicians, is in question now that the co-tenant is moving out of the large facility.
The current co-tenant, a French school, has helped keep the legion financially viable. When the school leaves, the legion says the costs of maintenance and heat will be too expensive for it to survive.
Because the legion is zoned as institutional, there are limits on who can move into the space. Legion president Ken Kuzminski says Parks Canada has shot down several proposals, including a yoga studio and storage space, because they are too commercial.
“After years of reinventing ourselves, becoming a well known music venue and still not being able to survive, it’s quite disappointing,” Kuzminski said.
Kuzminski has now applied for a demolition licence to destroy half of the legion.
“I’m at my wits end,” Kuzminski said. “I’m exhausted and exasperated. But there’s still a lot of fight in me, and there’s a lot of fight within our members and the veterans in our community. And we will find a proposal that will work.”
Folk musician Del Barber said it would be disappointing to lose the venue, which was key to launching his own music career.
“It really is one of the first venues that I played and had a good response and was able to build a crowd,” Barber said.
He said the venue is vital to the Canadian music scene. Corb Lund and Fred Eaglesmith have also played there.
“Everytime we lose a venue like this, it really hurts us,” Barber said.
Parks Canada has yet to comment.