COLUMN: Are we cool or what?

Getting cool is not as easy as dropping an air conditioning unit on the roof and plugging it in.

When cooler heads prevail, things get — cooler. The story of the Civic Theatre’s air conditioning system could also be called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Nelson.

First, thanks to those who have been patient through our recent heat wave, coming out to sweat through blockbusters and Indie flicks in the age-old tradition of Civic Theatre movie-goers who have been fanning themselves when the mercury rises since the summer of ’36.

Our members (Renew! Join!) have been clear that cool as our renewed theatre is, air conditioning would make it so much cooler. So between your generous community donations and help from granting agencies, the necessary $130,000 was raised.

Getting cool is not as easy as dropping an air conditioning unit on the roof and plugging it in. There was work to be done, and our local experts-on-the-ground were both expert and grounded in their preparations.

General contractor Peter Gosney Construction brought the team together: supplier, shipper, cooling system installer and electrical contractor. He reinforced the roof, cut a hole, and laid the concrete slab and curb necessary to receive the new arrival, which would be brought by stork, er, crane. One of those birds.

Ken Shukin of Comfort Zone Heating and Cooling had the ductwork ready to roll, and John Matesovic at Kootenay Lake Electric got the power in place — itself no small feat.

“Power was a problem. To get enough, we had to run a cable as thick as a banana 400 feet from the north side of the Civic Centre,” says building committee chair Graeme Leadbeater. The city assisted in accessing power from the old ice plant, now that the new Nelson and District Community Complex ice plant supplies both.

So, we’ve painted the nursery, we’ve bought the crib — now, we just needed the baby. But as any expectant parent will tell you, due dates can be dodgy.

In Nelson, we love that we’re a little off the beaten track. It makes us special. But when Lennox contracted a shipper (who shall not be named) to deliver our bouncing baby air handling unit, things went awry.

At Revelstoke the shipper realized Nelson wasn’t where they thought it was — and demanded more money. Your mistake, said the supplier, and a dispute ensued. The shipper, in a fit of pique, dropped the trailer at the side of the Trans Canada and presumably went off to find a cold beer.

“I thought: you’ve got to be kidding me,” vented Graeme, steaming. “I mean, $130K and our AH unit is sitting on the side of the highway.”

The RCMP was dispatched to rescue the foundling, a development that caused the shipper to rethink things. Abandonment is frowned upon no matter what your cargo. And so the baby was delivered by crane a day late, but not a dollar short.

In real time, revised contractor schedules meant that things cooled down for the Civic a little later than planned. But now, we have a bouncing baby air conditioning unit, and we even have a nurse!

Mechanical systems expert and board member Darryl Santano promises to keep things chill from now on. Thanks to everyone involved in conception, gestation, and delivery.

Cool things coming up — in addition to our regular fare — include a comfortable mid-summer salute tonight at 7:30 p.m. with Royal Opera House Cinema’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

On Wednesday, July 30 catch The Bus, a quirky documentary about that iconic Volkswagen. Central character Dave Manning — a vagabond musician travelling in his 1965 split screen — will be in attendance with his guitar, and a parade of old VWs will create an honour guard out front.

How cool is that?


— Anne DeGrace is the past president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society. To buy or renew memberships or find out about upcoming movies and events go to

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