In the last few weeks, a couple of issues have come to the attention of council.
The Nelson Civic Theatre could be closed for good as a movie theatre if there is not a business plan to continue the refitting and running of movies. There is, in addition, the proposal before council to allow dogs on leashes to return to the Baker Street area.
The Nelson Civic Theatre has operated in Nelson since 1935, as a stage theatre and then as a movie theatre. With a deadline looming at the end of May, there is a newly formed citizens group hoping to have an alternative proposal to run the theatre as a non-profit. There are two movie theatres run by non-profit societies in Salmon Arm and others around the province. While there is an argument that it is not possible to continue as a movie theatre in this changing technological age, with an upgrade as a 3D theatre it could be viable. The theatre space could also be used during the day for other activities such as a practice for stage plays and/or having plays or events during the day. The theatre space could be used as well for the performing arts. With the support of the city and the citizens of Nelson it could be successful and work for the benefit of the whole community.
The other issue is the proposal to allow dogs on leashes back in the downtown core. There are problems currently with some dog owners who do not obey the existing bylaws. It is interesting to note that it was the Downtown Business Association years ago who petitioned the city council of the day to ban dogs from Baker Street because of the dog problems. Now the current association believe things have changed. Yet there is no evidence of this, such as dogs brought into Rotary Lakeside Park and on the beach, dogs running loose around Lakeside playing fields and loose dogs on John’s Walk, not to mention the mess on the dog walk beside the airport.
Health and safety in the downtown core with dogs could be an issue. The health issue is dog feces on sidewalks, as well as dogs peeing on everything in sight, including sign boards, lamp posts, corners of buildings, car wheels, etc. Safety concerns such as many years ago a young child was bitten by a dog on Baker Street, not to mention dogs frightening seniors and jumping on young children. Many people think of tourist dogs as small and cuddly, but what if dogs such as pit bulls and doberman pinschers and other large dogs were brought into the downtown core? Baker Street sidewalks are narrow, so is it desirable to have dogs return to the streets and have citizens, seniors and young children exposed again to the safety and health risk?
The Downtown Business Association speculates there will be more business from tourists by allowing dogs back in the Baker Street area, but it could also backfire, sending more local people and tourists to the Chahko Mika Mall where they can shop in a dry, cool, smoke free and dog free environment.
Having dogs on Baker Street is not the solution to improve business in the downtown core. This could be done instead by cleaning up Baker Street with new awnings, paint, bike racks, garbage and recycling containers, as well as a doggy daycare located in the area.
To sum up, there has been a strong show of support from a number of Nelson and area citizens to have the heritage Civic Theatre restored as a movie theatre and performing arts centre. And along with proper marketing and cleaning up of the buildings and streets in the downtown core, business may not need to have dog mayhem return to the jewel of our city, Baker Street.
Robin Cherbo is a Nelson city council who shares this space with his colleagues at the table