Art centre a chance for collaboration

Langford residents have announced their desire for an arts and culture facility and now the question is how to make that happen.

Langford residents have announced their desire for an arts and culture facility and now the question is how to make that happen.

Cindy Moyer, West Shore Arts Council president and executive director of Coast Collective, sees Langford’s interest in an arts centre as an opportunity for collaboration.

The City of Colwood has been working with the arts council for years to develop a plan for a community cultural centre and in 2013 commissioned a $30,000 study to determine the what kind of centre would be needed to serve the area.

The resulting report gave a rough recommendation of a centre in the $35-million range, with a 650-seat theatre, a collection of studio spaces and a gallery/gift shop.

“We know it’s not an inexpensive project and it’s because of that it seems so well suited to a collaboration of some kind,” Moyer said. “It feels most appropriate that it would be viewed as a regional asset.”

So far Colwood’s attempts to get shovels in the ground for the centre, first as a part of the new Royal Bay secondary school and then as a part of a large private development in Royal Bay, have hit dead ends.

So with a basic plan ready but a location and funding needed, Moyer believes Langford could be the answer they’ve been looking for.

“I would really love to see the two urban municipalities sit down and discuss the possibilities,” Moyer said.

Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton is open to the idea and said she has briefly discussed collaboration with Langford Mayor Stew Young and hopes to have a more in-depth discussion soon.

“The door’s wide open,” said Hamilton. “I’d love to have a conversation.”

Hamilton thinks Colwood’s plan is a good one, with a lot of work behind it, and believes it the best to go forward with.

Young said the idea of Langford building an arts centre is at this point just that: an idea. He knows there’s interest in the community and steps will be taken to get the ball rolling on developing a proposal, but the project is in such a stage of infancy he has no idea what it will end up looking like.

That being said, he is open to the idea of partners, including Colwood.

“Obviously there’s some room for cooperation, but it won’t be one sided, it won’t be just Langford paying,” Young said. “I just hope we get one out there, I don’t care how we do it, I just want willing partners.”

He said ultimately it’s the residents of Langford who will decide what plan moves ahead. City staff and committees will figure out projected costs, both for building and running a facility, and potential partnerships, and then the residents will have a chance to approve or reject the idea.

Young also believes there is room for two cultural facilities on the West Shore, should a partnership not develop. He said he won’t take it personally if Colwood decides to do its own thing.

Moyer hopes the two do find the middle ground, however, as she sees this as a ripe opportunity for a fruitful partnership and a way to move forward as a region.

“If the issue is you don’t want to have another model of West Shore Parks and Rec, that’s cool. Nobody is asking for that to be replicated,” Moyer said, referring to the occasionally troubled relationships surrounding the regional facility. “Break some barriers, for Christ’s sake, do something fun and innovative that everybody will jump on board with.”