Nelson city council moves ahead with theatre plan

Nelson Mayor John Dooley said the Nelson Civic Theatre Society deserves a chance.  - Megan Cole photo
Nelson Mayor John Dooley said the Nelson Civic Theatre Society deserves a chance.
— image credit: Megan Cole photo

The Nelson Civic Theatre Society has the support of the City after council voted to develop a letter of intent for the project at Monday night’s council meeting.

The society was hoping for a letter of intent prior to entering into lease negotiations because of a grant they are applying for which is due November 19.

“I think they did a great job preparing the report,” said Mayor John Dooley. “It was a very thorough plan and clearly council and I feel they deserve an opportunity to make it work.”

The group presented their proposal at a committee of the whole meeting late last month which outlined a phased approach for two different plans.

Plan A would allow the society to open the theatre with one screen, faster with less of an initial financial investment. Plan B would include two screens requiring a bit more time and money in the beginning, but would likely result in increased revenue.

“Our intention is to move forward with plan B, with the two theatres from the beginning,” vice president of the society Roger Ley told local media after the meeting. “I think we would move to plan A if we get into fundraising and it’s not going the way we hoped. We’re very optimistic we can raise what we need to proceed with plan B.”

Council has not yet entered into lease negotiations with the society. According to the report submitted in Monday’s agenda, as part of the relationship between the group and the City, council will need to consider how much time they are willing to have the building tied up while the society completes their fundraising.

“There are challenges anytime you have to raise that kind of money,” said Dooley. “They are talking about conservatively needing $2.5 million, and that’s a big chunk of money. They have a phased approach they are going to work towards and hopefully they are able to meet their goals, but clearly it is going to be a challenge.”

Ley said after the meeting that the society is hoping to access the necessary insurance to allow them to get the community into the theatre as quickly as possible.

“We’re discussing, based on what we heard today in council, opening the lower theatre very minimal and we’d try to get the community in there for some fundraising events,” said Ley.

“We could see movies there in the upcoming months depending on how long things could take.”


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