Days before the application deadline for proposals to revive the Civic Theatre, a local businessman asked city council to give the process another year.
Nelson Becker, owner of the Kootenay Express digital newspaper, said while he doesn’t intend to submit a proposal for the Civic Theatre, he doesn’t want the City to rush into a decision.
“Is it really in the City’s mandate to lease space at all?” Becker asked, noting that community groups that want to rent public buildings have few opportunities after they’ve been leased to a specific group.
Becker gave examples of the old badminton hall, leased to Glacier Gymnastics, and the old library that the Dance Umbrella now occupies.
“I’m not commenting on the goodness of these groups, I’m only saying we have lost community access to the whole building without any plan or forethought.”
He said the former theatre should be run by the City, and rented out for functions, such as banquets, weddings and community events.
Given an extra year, Becker believed the City could form a committee to develop a policy around leasing out buildings.
“City-owned facilities must be as multi-use as possible,” he said. “They must be accessible to the largest number of people.”
Councillors thanked Becker for his presentation, though they made no recommendation to change the May 31 application deadline for the Civic Theatre.
Currently there are two groups interested in leasing the space — one wants to keep it as a movie theatre and the other wants to convert it into a climbing wall and squash club.