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Nelson Civic Theatre proposals in city’s hands

The next steps in the future of the vacant Civic Theatre are now in the hands of Nelson city staff and council.
The request for proposal deadline has come and gone for Nelson's Civic Theatre.

The next steps in the future of the vacant Civic Theatre are now in the hands of Nelson city staff and council.

The deadline for the request for proposal was May 31 and city manager Kevin Cormack confirmed that in addition to the proposal from the Downtown Athletic Club, the city has only received one other proposal from the Nelson Civic Theatre Society.

“It was a very democratic process on the part of the 16 people that we have involved with this group,” said Anne DeGrace, who arrived at City Hall with Josh Wapp and Cindy Sherry to deliver the proposal from the Civic Theatre Society.

“Over time just the distillation of all the vision and thoughts was an incredible process for all of us,” said DeGrace.

The three agreed that regardless of the outcome being part of the experience of developing the proposal and the society has been “brilliant.”

“I’ve met people I didn’t know and I think we can all say the same for that,” said DeGrace. “We’ve found new working relationships and found new aspects of the community that we hadn’t experienced before.”

The Downtown Athletic Club did not resubmit a proposal following the request for proposal deadline extension.

“We’re standing on the presentation we made to council last March,” said Pat Hodgson with the Athletic Club. “We weren’t required to submit another formal proposal through this process.”

Now that the deadline has passed, Hodgson said the group is “hopeful.”

“We’re confident in the ability to pull off our project and have it be viable,” he said. “We have substantial doubts that the theatre group can operate a first run theatre in the Nelson marketplace and be viable without any financial support from government.”

Hodgson said if the Civic Theatre Society can put forward a viable business plan that shows that they can be profitable and sustainable than we know what decision the city will make.

The presentation laid out by the Athletic Club in March included plans for a facility that will include space for both the climbing club and the squash club.

There may also be room for basketball courts and other amenities available to other community athletic groups.

Inspired by the Salmar Community Association who runs both the Salmar Grand Cinemas and Salmar Classic Theatre, the Nelson Civic Theatre group is hoping to gather memberships and operate as a co-operative.

“If the proposal is accepted we’re committed to continuing with community consultation,” said DeGrace. “Membership drive will be a huge part of it. Josh might be wearing this outfit for months to come.”

Hodgson said the Downtown Athletic Club doesn’t have a backup plan if council does not accept their proposal.

“The squash club’s facility is being converted into a strata,” said Hodgson. “We have been offered our two remaining courts to purchase but for the future of the club it’s not really a viable location anymore. I think without the Civic the climbing club is dead in the water.”

Cormack said city staff will now assess the proposals against the criteria in the request for proposal and report out to council. Council will then give staff direction as how to proceed.