I am writing first of all to thank the Nelson Star for the balanced coverage of the Civic Theatre debate. As a representative of the Downtown Athletic Club proposal, I recognize that this is an emotionally charged debate that once again puts sports and arts on opposing sides of an issue.
I do have to take issue with one comment made in Bob Hall’s Jambalaya column on April 6. His comment that “the Downtown Athletic Club proposal appeals to a much smaller demographic” is off base. Between the climbing club and squash club, we have over 600 documented participants that would use this facility on a regular basis. Many of these participants will use the facility more than once a week. Our proposed facility will be available to school groups to augment their physical education programs. We expect that the facility will be open for a minimum of eight hours per day, seven days a week from September through May. We expect the 3-on-3 basketball court to be well used and expect good use of the facility from a number of groups in the region that need space on an as needed basis.
Based on these projections, I think that we can make a strong case that “our demographic” would comprise a greater number of actual users of the facility than if it was returned to use as a theatre. We can all recall when the big movies come to town and there was a packed house at the Civic, but we should all be able to recall the number of times when the buzz had faded and the theatre was nearly empty once everyone had seen the movie that was currently playing. We would like to see this building actively used on an ongoing basis.
It is also worth mentioning that our proposal leaves a portion of the facility undeveloped. This was done to allow other user groups within the city to apply to make use of the space. If the Save the Civic Theatre group is interested in utilizing that space for the creation of a theatre space, albeit a smaller one, we would welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively to our mutual benefit.
VP, Nelson Squash Club