City changes direction on federal grant for Civic Centre building

City changes direction on federal grant for Civic Centre building

City council votes in favour of a new grant plan that will carry out general improvements to the Civic Centre building.

Yesterday at a special meeting city council agreed to a new grant application plan for the Civic Centre building.

Council will apply for a Canada 150 infrastructure grant amounting to $500,000 and a matching grant of $250,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust toward improvements to the building. In addition, the city would $598,000 of city money already earmarked for upgrades to the building. The total budget for the project would be $1,348,000.

This decision came in the wake of a contentious meeting last week in which council rejected a proposed partnership between the Civic Theatre Society and the city to apply for grants for the building. The sticking point was a piece of new construction proposed by the theatre society— a concourse on the front of the building intended to connect all aspects of the building and provide exits for all of them. The majority of councillors thought long-needed mechanical, electrical, and structural upgrades to the building should be done before the city spends money on new construction.

Under the new grant application, to be submitted by the grant’s deadline of today, the Canada 150 and CBT grants would pay for:

  • Fire mitigation in the theatre: $10,000
  • Electrical upgrades: $250,000
  • Rebuild the entry to the theatre: $280,000
  • Mechanical, heating, ventilation $139,000
  • Architect and engineer fees $70,000

The work that would be paid for by the city under its already-existing capital plan include:

  • Arena exit re-design $140,000
  • Mechanical upgrades $11,000
  • Hazardous material removal $8,000
  • Dance studio attic $60,000
  • Fire mitigation in the theatre $150,000
  • Civic centre roof replacement $110,000

Under this plan some of the work paid for by the city will benefit the theatre directly as well as being a general upgrade to the building.

The Canada 150 Fund is a federal government infrastructure program designed to celebrate Canada’s 150the birthday in 2017. The Columbia Basin Trust has said it will match some successful Canada 150 by 50 per cent.

The plan that was rejected last week would have seen the city and the theatre society both applying to Canada 150 for different parts of the building including building two new screening rooms.

But now the theatre society will not be applying to Canada 150 at all. Board chair Marilyn Mint says she has learned that there will be many applications from the Nelson area to the fund and that a joint application has more chance of succeeding. So the theatre society collaborated with city staff over the weekend to write a new single grant proposal under the city’s name that concentrates more on general upgrades to the building rather than the specifics of building a movie theatre.

“We are pleased,” Mint said. “We think this is a pretty good outcome.”