Several city councillors who want to see a mural on Boomtown Sports painted over could yet get their way, even though council has passed a resolution allowing it to stay up.
Boomtown owner Dale Arsenault says he’s planning to paint over portions of the work that irked Nelson’s heritage and cultural committees, but may not be able to make the other changes to his building council has asked for.
In addition to removing his business’ name from two columns flanking the graffiti-style mural, Arsenault was told by the city he has to make the rest of his signs match the artwork on Boomtown’s garage doors.
“I can’t afford that, all the rest of it,” he told the Star. “That’s the hard part. It cost me $1,000 to get the mural painted, but it’s going to cost me even more to paint all my other signs to match the mural now.”
Nelson’s Cultural Development Committee and Heritage Commission spent much of the winter on its suggestions to council, using the mural — put up without city permission more than a year ago — to road test new public art policies that would require the two groups to work together.
Their conclusion, given the nod by city council earlier this month, states changing the signage would “improve the holistic appearance of the building.” Painting the columns of the mural, it adds, will remove its current “advertising aspects” and “reduce the impact on heritage space.”
But councillor Marg Stacey told council the mural is a “tragedy” that could set uncomfortable precedents for the city, and that Arsenault should be instructed to paint over the work.
“I think it’s kind of a comedy of errors — a tragedy of errors, as far as I’m concerned,” she said at the meeting.
“There are some things that should be contemporized. This isn’t one of them.”
She and councillors Robin Cherbo and Bob Adams voted against the mural compromise (though Cherbo told the Star he opposed the resolution because the store didn’t ask for permission, not because of heritage concerns).
But Arsenault says his decision to commission the mural without city approval was made in ignorance, not out of malice. At the time, he wasn’t aware he needed approval from anyone other than the building’s owner, who backed the project.
“There’s murals on the other side of the building, I thought it was just bringing one more mural around the front,” he says.
“I’m not trying to be a rebel. I just wasn’t aware I had to go through those steps in the process of painting a garage door. I thought I was cheering up this end of town and a boring street.”
Arsenault says he hopes painting the offending columns on the sides of the mural will be enough to placate the city. But if he preserving the mural turns into the expensive operation he’s been asked for, it might not be up much longer.
“I’m tempted just to paint over the mural and say you’re welcome to put your posters on the door,” he says. “But it won’t be any nicer looking.”