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City council hears pitch from Nelson Civic Theatre Society
Four months after the Nelson Civic Theatre Society was given an extension by the city to complete their proposal to re-open the theatre, the society presented its plan at Monday night’s council meeting.
Roger Ley, the vice president of the society, presented two possible options to council and the crowd in chambers.
Both options for the development and re-opening of the theatre involve the group proceeding with the renovations and designs in phases. Both would also include a three-screen scenario.
Option A would see the society developing and renovating a one-screen theatre first, with the renovation and construction of two more screens as the phases continue.
Unlike option A, the second option would have the society invest more money and time initially for the development of two screens.
Even though the first option requires less work right off the bat — opening a one-screen theatre initially — both plans are projected to cost a maximum of $2.7 million.
Ley referred to the first option as the “quick and dirty” choice.
“Our preference is option B because it would give us the two screens right away,” he said. “It gives more flexibility and more profits. The option A was really about how do we open the theatre as fast as we can? Option A, phase one, is a temporary fix to get to the multi-screen and is the key to viability and profitability.”
The projected costs presented Monday were based on market rate labour with a 15 per cent contingency included.
Ley said the society anticipates they will be able complete the project for less due to contributions and volunteer work from the community.
“We’ve spoken to a number of contractors who said they would offer some time and they’d love to help with this and do some electrical, plumbing and all sorts of things,” he said.
“We might be able to find breaks on supplies and other things as well. Things like sound absorption would make great little community projects on a Saturday and things that kids can get involved in as well.”
The society hopes to raise funds for the theatre project largely through community contributions such as chair sales, sponsorships, special events, donations and community bonds.
“Obviously raising that kind of money needs some substantial support from the community, but the way we’ve worked the phasing is that each phase is feasible, viable and sustainable,” said Ley. “If we get to a phase one of either plan and decide to let it sit for a while, we still have a single-screen theatre in the case of option A or a two-screen theatre for the case of option B. We can just sit and continue to work, operate and be sustainable and not be a drain on finances beyond the fundraising.”
In the wake of the City’s last unsuccessful attempt to re-open the Civic Theatre, city manager Kevin Cormack expressed concerns about being left with a half-completed project.
“We don’t want to see what happened last time where a group comes in inadequately funded and makes some changes and can’t complete,” he said. “Our concern would be having a building with half-completed renovations, so we would want to see what their phasing would look like and make sure they have enough funding to complete those aspects.”
The society said during their presentation that should they be given the clear mandate to move forward, they will be asking the city about rent relief.
Cormack said because of the amount of leaseholder improvements needed on the facility, a request such as concessions around rent would not be unexpected.
“We did something similar when Soccer Quest came to the city and said ‘we are willing to put our money into doing the leaseholds, but would like a rent concession for the period to get a return on the funds invested.’ I see this as quite similar,” he said.
Councillor Donna Macdonald, who chaired the Monday committee of the whole meeting, said city staff would likely return to council with a recommendation on the society’s proposal in early December.