An expansion to the Civic Theatre and extra programming at Touchstones museum are among the West Kootenay projects receiving over $1.7 million in provincial funding.
Recipients of the B.C. Rural Dividend were announced by Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall at the theatre on Tuesday. The funding is part of nearly $19 million distributed to 153 projects province wide.
Mungall said the money will assist community building initiatives.
“It really speaks to the hard work people are doing in this community,” she said.
The theatre received $336,806 to develop architectural and engineering plans for its planned $4.5-million, two-screen expansion. Some money will also be used to hire a program co-ordinator focused on building a screen-based industry.
Although the funding is only a relatively small piece of the money needed for the expansion — the theatre has also applied for over $2 million from the federal government’s Invest in Canada infrastructure program — executive director Eleanor Stacey said it is an important step toward a plan that has been in the works since 2012.
“It’s exciting for a whole bunch of reasons,” she said. “A whole lot of patrons who come here who are frustrated they only get to see in a one-month or two-month period [that they actually wanted to see.] So when we get to three screens we’ll be able to show so much more and meet so many more interests of audiences.”
Mungall said the theatre plays a central role in Nelson’s arts scene.
“We have a lot of important things being funded, disaster management for example, but being able to go to the movies is really important for this community because we all remember what it was like to not be able to go to the movies for a really long time. … That we’re able to bring money to the community, to our local theatre so we can all enjoy arts and culture together is so great.”
Other organizations receiving funding include:
• The Regional District of Central Kootenay, which will use $991,324 for projects that include economic development, disaster management and farm innovation.
• Community Futures Central Kootenay, which will use $100,000 to hire an operations co-ordinator for the Nelson Innovation Centre.
• Kootenay Employment Services Society, which was awarded $99,816 to launch two region-wide community investment co-ops to support the Kootenay Boundary and Shuswap regions.
• Touchstones Nelson, which will put $98,209 toward its Diefenbunker expansion as well as to support the hiring of indigenous, school and public programmers.
“That trifecta of awesome programmingness is going to really further enliven what we have to offer at the museum for everybody,” said acting executive director Anna Purcell.
• The Village of Kaslo, which receives $97,359 to develop the aerodrome and Kaslo Bay areas. Mayor Suzan Hewat said the aerodrome’s growth is currently hampered by space restrictions.
“Because we don’t have it laid out properly we’re sort of stalled, so this is going to help us out with that for sure.”
• One more project for Creston, which Mungall’s staff said will be for just under $100,000, will be announced Thursday.