A collection of murals is nearly finished at the Heffley Creek Community Hall — despite repeated vandalism setbacks.
Since September, artist Jeff Jones has been spray-painting murals onto the centre’s interior and exterior walls. The largest mural of the bunch stretches across the outside of the building and depicts Heffley Creek’s history, from First Nations settlements to lumber mills to the modern day.
Jones was commissioned by the Heffley Creek Community Recreation Association after the non-profit received grant money from the Canada Community Revitalization Fund. The organization’s secretary and treasurer, Deb McDougall, said beautifying the neighbourhood was the perfect way to spend the money.
“Since 1972 [the hall] has been that putrid green colour,” she said.
“I remember the first day [Jones] was here and put down the blue backdrop for the sky and the green of the grass,” she recalled. “Everyone was so excited.”
McDougall said Jones has been working on the artwork nonstop since arriving in the area last month. He sleeps in a travel trailer next to the hall and works nearly every day and night, she explained.
Jones, a multidisciplinary artist, has been painting murals for the past five years. Originally from Ontario, he travels around Canada with his 200-pound Rottweiler, Timmy, and finds jobs through Facebook Marketplace.
Of all the regions he’s worked in, Jones said Heffley Creek has been the most welcoming.
“Heffley Creek is off the wall,” he said. “I had two Thanksgiving dinners in this town and I didn’t know [the hosts] at all. They welcomed me into their homes.”
Residents have also brought the artist groceries and stopped to chat or take photos of his work.
The community’s support went above and beyond, Jones said, after the mural was vandalized twice with graffiti so close to being completed. To fix the damage, Jones had to repaint large portions of the wall, extend his stay by a week and cancel other jobs he’d lined up.
Residents of Heffley Creek responded to the vandalism by setting up lights and watching Jones’ art overnight so he could sleep without worrying about it being damaged, he said.
“[The community] gave me the energy to go on,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the town behind me, encouraging me, I might have bailed on [the project].”
With the project almost complete, Jones plans to spend some time in Calgary and Red Deer before returning to Ontario to visit his father. But he said he’d love to come back to the area and added he’d like to contribute some art to Sun Peaks next.
McDougall said the murals have helped brighten up Heffley Creek and make the community centre more welcoming.
“When you come around that corner [on Old Highway 5] and see it, you just have to say ‘wow!’”