By Joni MacFarlane
Editor, Crowsnest Pass Promoter
Crowsnest Pass residents said they hoped the area’s history would be reflected in the architectural features of a proposed development on the former Crowsnest Centre site.
Lethbridge architect Alvin Fritz, who has been hired for the development, said there was a consensus among residents at an open house that they wanted the design features to reflect Crowsnest Pass and its coal mining history rather than a generic ‘Canadiana’ look.
“I must say the group that was there on the night of our presentation was very buoyant and optimistic, wanting to see good things happening in the region and were generally very complimentary of the project,” said Fritz. “The input from a design sense [was] finding a form and character that’s true to the Pass. They want something that’s real, not a make-believe architecture that doesn’t reflect the mining history of the Pass.”
Since the initial presentation on February 12, Fritz said he’s been reviewing archival photos as well as emails with photos of sites such as Leitch Collieries and detail such as rock samples quarried in the area.
“The things that appeal to people was to do something that isn’t just airy-fairy Canadiana, they want something that really means something to the mining community,” he said.
In addition, Fritz said he received specific concerns such as where the children’s play area was located. In this case, people suggested moving it further away from the highway to mitigate risk.
“It’s good because people are thinking very pragmatically about the design,” he said.
Residents also told him they wanted the restaurants and hotel built with appropriate design features.
“They appreciated that if we do get nationals, that we put some pressure on them to respond to the local architectural requirements,” he said. “They don’t want just the national branding, they want us to put a little pressure on to see something that’s appropriately designed… There will be push back, there always is, but that’s fine. We’ll end up with something that we’re all happy with.”
Fritz said the hotel could also be persuaded to design with architecture representative of the area. He said Medican and Group Vachon are leaning towards Best Western and he’s designed 10 or 12 in his career.