Recommendation helps local professionals meet Parks Canada’s eligible residency requirements
To an artist, there’s nothing like a blank slate.
And last week, a cadre of local creatives got the official word that their collective canvas has been primed for painting.
On January 18, Jasper-based ceramics producer, painter, graphic designer and merch-maker, Celina Frisson, presented to Parks Canada’s Public Development Advisory Committee (PDAC). Officially, Frisson’s application was to allow for the discretionary use of space in the commercial storage and services district (S Block) for professional and office support services.
In plain terms, the request was to set up a communal space in Jasper’s industrial zone for her fellow creatives. She and her peers are calling the concept The Creative Residence—as in, the opposite of the often-unfavourable work spaces that many Jasper professionals are forced to carve out of their homes, vehicles and local cafés.
“There’s a lot of people who are tired of working at coffee shops,” the 28-year-old told the committee. “And it’s hard for businesses to survive solely at home.“
Arguing that the type of services provided by digital marketing professionals, photographers, graphic designers and other artists are essential to local businesses in 2024—but that those makers often can’t afford commercial business district rents in Jasper, and therefore can’t meet eligible residency requirements—Frisson was asking the members of PDAC to recommend to JNP’s superintendent the creation of a space where entrepreneurs and artists can work collaboratively.
“The path forward is co-working space and collaborative work space,” she told the five-member panel. “We’ll be creating conditions for businesses to use local services, rather than outsourcing.”
After a few cursory questions from the committee, a week later, Frisson’s application was approved. As a result, to Frisson—who’s jumped through multiple hoops to demonstrate her eligibility to reside in Jasper National Park—it feels like Jasper’s creative community is getting a fresh start.
“This feels like a blank slate,” she said, unbolting the door to an open-concept studio at Lot 7, 29 Stan Wright Drive, where she hopes up to nine different creative professionals will be able to set up their Creative Residence(s), including mobile desks.
Previously the home of a welding shop, the renovated space will be deliberately flexible—with potential to host anything from yoga classes to team meetings to photography workshops to linocut sessions, all with the swivel of a few desks.
“People want to have a space to be creative, to bounce ideas around, to hang out and get work done,” Frisson said. “That type of camaraderie is important to community.”
The Municipality of Jasper and Tourism Jasper seem to agree. Both organizations wrote to Parks Canada’s development office in support of Frisson’s efforts. The MOJ’s Director of Community Development, Christopher Read, said the idea of a co-working space has been repeatedly discussed and requested at the town’s regular Community Conversations. And TJ’s president and CEO, James Jackson, endorsed the concept by noting that Jasper’s struggles with labour shortages and creative brain drain have hampered the community’s cultural and economic growth.
“A co-working space could help fledgling creatives stay in Jasper, allowing more businesses, residents and visitors to support local,” Jackson wrote.
Now Frisson is looking for fellow creatives to share in that camaraderie. Although she’s got a studio space two doors down to live her best, slowest life as @thecreativetraveller, Frisson wants other artists to be able to similarly thrive.
“This isn’t Celina’s space,” she said. “This is a place where you can stretch your limbs, feel at home and be creative.”
To learn more about the blank slate at 29 Stan Wright Drive and see how you could potentially dip your brush in the collective ink at The Residence, email Frisson at email@example.com or check our her Instagram.
Bob Covey // firstname.lastname@example.org