A sentinel on the Rowley landscape is passing, as well known Sam’s Saloon has been forced to close, and the building demolished.
The landmark in the Hamlet of Rowley is scheduled to be demolished by the beginning of May, due to what some are describing as archaic bylaws that should have been struck from the books many years ago. “It’s a shame, people come from all over for Pizza Night to enjoy the authentic prairie town tavern,” said Lorraine Foesier of the Rowley Community Association. “If these are the winds of change, they certainly stink.” CAO of Starland County Ross Rawlusyk confirms the landmark will have to disappear from the Rowley landscape. He explains last summer there were complaints about the carrying on at Sam’s Saloon during one of the pizza night celebrations. The saloon was clearly in violation of Starland County Bylaw 4 (1), which dates back to the founding of the county over 60 years ago. The bylaw was created to deal with the rowdy aspect of local mining and farming communities. The bylaw states that if a person is caught within the county imbibing in beer or spirits in a public area, the establishment that sold the items are liable, and subject to closure. If there is a second complaint, the county is forced to have the establishment demolished. Rawlusyk says his hands are tied on the matter. While the law dates back to 1943, it is still valid. No one has acted upon the law since Rowley became a hamlet of the county. However, because the county has been asked to follow up on whether the establishment is in contravention due to a complaint, they are forced to take action. “We can’t just make a law disappear if we don’t like it, especially when it is complaint generated,” said Rawlusyk. Sam’s Saloon was created in 1980 as a part of the Alberta 75 celebration. Before that, the building was known as Sam’s Café, a Rowley original business operated by Sam Leung until 1968. For some the closure of Sam’s Café was the beginning of the ghosts coming to Rowley, but Sam’s Saloon has helped stave them off. In fact the community has been revitalized over the last year as the Rowley Complex of elevators have finally been renovated. To see Sam’s Saloon be torn down is a blow to the community. Foesier explains Pizza Night is one of their main fundraisers to keep the hamlet operating as an attraction. “There are a lot of people that work hard, and to have it seen blown to smithereens because of a couple complaints, it’s just a shame,” said Foesier. The complaint against the establishment has been made in confidence, and Rawlusyk says he is not able to divulge the name of the petitioner due to privacy legislation.
HAPPY APRIL FOOLS