Calgary council asked to designate 1st legion hall as a municipal heritage resource

Canada’s first legion hall stands an excellent chance of making it to the 22nd century.

The No. 1 Royal Canadian Legion’s 100-year-long lease — which exempts it from paying property taxes — expires next year, so steps are being taken to at city hall to have the legion designated a municipal heritage resource.

According to Calgary Heritage Authority executive director Josh Traptow, that means a measure of stability for one of the city’s final examples of Classical Revival architecture.

At the same time, the designation leaves open the possibility that revenue-generating opportunities — a No. 1 Legion brewpub, anyone? — might still be undertaken in order to create financial stability for the beloved building.

But first Traptow cleared up one thing for host David Gray on Monday’s Calgary Eyeopener: namely, that the municipal heritage resource designation isn’t what stands between No. 1 Legion  and a wrecking ball.

Construction began on Calgary’s Legion No. 1 in 1919, just a year after the end of the First World War. (Erin Collins/CBC)

“The building is already provincially designated, so that meant it couldn’t be torn down,” Traptow said. 

“In terms of municipally designating it, the City of Calgary and the legion signed a lease in 1919 that exempted it from municipal tax. That lease expires next year, and so as part of extending that lease for another hundred years …  it will be protected, in perpetuity.

“They’ll get their exemption from property tax and will also have the ability to access the City of Calgary’s municipal heritage grant program, as well as sell any unused density that the legion has.” 

‘Unused density’ for sale

Traptow also explained the concept of ‘unused density’.

“In layman’s terms, if that site was zoned to 15 storeys, they could sell their density, above their two stories, to another site in the Beltline. The program’s available to any municipally designated resource in the downtown. Iit allows them to take use of whatever density they’re zoned for, and they’re able to sell that density.

“So they get an infusion of cash, which allows them to continue to maintain and operate the building, but make use of whatever density they have. It’s a great program to encourage keeping heritage buildings.”

Being designated by the city doesn’t change anything for the legion, which was originally built in 1922 as a gathering place for veterans returning from fighting in the First World War.

However, Traptow said that if the legion wanted to pitch the city on the idea of developing part of the building as a brewpub, there might be some interest.

“It would all depend what portions of building are regulated. I think there are some parts of the interior that are regulated. All of the outside is regulated — but I’m sure the city and the province would work with them if they wanted to put in a microbrewery or whatever.”

A motion is being brought forward by Coun. Druh Farrell to give the Legion its municipal heritage resource designation, which Traptow didn’t anticipate anyone protesting.

Over the years, the Legion has morphed from being a gathering place for veterans into being a multi-purpose venue, Traptow added.

“The legion still hosts weddings, legion events, wrestling, rock concerts — it still is very much part of the fabric of the downtown community,” he said.

He added that it’s also a treasured part of the city’s past.

“Calgary has such a rich military past, that it’s great to see it becoming a municipal historic resource, in addition to already being a province historic resource,” he said.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener



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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.

History

Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
Geography

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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