If a private business owner wants to modernize his or her building, and there’s no heritage bylaw saying they can’t, then that decision should be left to the business owner.
The Laughie McDougall mural on the west side of the West Street building has been a mainstay in the city for some 20 years. It was painted by artist Chad Anstey, through a government-funded program, to recognize the heritage and history of the province.
The mural— commissioned when the building was the popular watering hole called Casual Jacks— is great. It’s eye-catching, tells a story and shows off the talents of the artist. And yes, it’s tasteful, too, for those who are concerned about that sort of thing.
More than a week ago, strapping was tacked to the building and over the concrete bricks the mural was painted on. A social media firestorm ensued and before long there were threats to boycott the business.
This is carrying it a little too far.
What Louis-Gee’s is doing is trying to clean up its storefront, a practice coincidentally preached to Corner Brook by star tourism salesman Roger Brooks over the past few months.
This was not a slight against heritage, nor was it an attempt to downplay the value of the revered piece of art.
Let’s also give the restaurant some credit here as they’ve said repeatedly they were blindsided by the response to the possibly cover-up of the art and were not looking to ignore the wishes of people who want to see Laughie, a Codroy Valley legend, masked by vinyl.
Since the controversy broke, Louis-Gee’s is now trying to find a way to preserve the art, a massive olive branch to the fans of the piece. Not only is this good corporate citizenship, but it’s also good business and shows its customers the value in which their opinions are held.
Artist Chad Anstey seems to be fine with this approach as well.
No one wants to see a piece of our downtown character disappear, that’s for certain. But before our emotions having us running for a punitive ban, let’s take a sober look at the situation, measure it in its entirety and consider all sides of the issue.