The society operating the Coast Collective has run the numbers, and they don’t look good.
After seven years in an idyllic seaside mansion near Esquimalt Lagoon, the Coast Collective Art Centre will close its doors there on Dec. 20, executive director Cindy Moyer said.
Hundreds of artists that have attended workshops, galleries and a plethora of cultural events at the Havenwood property and Pendray house will see the bulk of the operation move in the wake of construction on the property that could last four years.
“We have determined we can’t survive if there is a tremendous dip in visitors and attendant sales that go with the visitors,” Moyer said. “Whether it is workshop part or people that come to the gift shop or visit the tranquil lagoon there has to be a critical mass of sales.”
Moyer said those sales would not be met during construction of 33 high-end waterfront condos for Pacific Landing, the developers of which own the entire property. She added that the developer has welcomed them to remain on the property as long as they need, but Moyer said once shovels hit the dirt, the disruptions would negatively impact a non-profit that already lives “hand to mouth.”
“We understand it is not up to the developer to underwrite a non profit and we must live up to our mandate,” she said, “(which is) promoting arts in the community and contributing to the culture of society.”
Moyer said even “conservative” estimates of a loss of 25 per cent of their business could cause a net result of the organization folding out of the location at some point anyway, even if they decided to wait it out.
“We are talking about the fibre of community and culture offering a collective presence, but there is a cost to providing that and the amount we have from the community to provide that is negligible,” she said. “If you do that math, if you take out 25 per cent, how do you make month end?” she asked. “We live on volunteer equity the likes of which many don’t appreciate and there is a breaking point. If we don’t change … it’s over.”
One potential new home is in Westridge Landing, a Wale Road development finishing its final phase of build out with the new Holiday Inn Express Suites Victoria – Colwood.
A board vote for the Society for Arts on the South Island, which operates Coast Collective, takes place this Sunday (Sept. 13) on whether that location works.
Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said there is always give and take, but the potential new location would boast much more visibility and walk-by traffic than the Heatherbell Road location.
“You hate to leave that wonderful location absolutely, but like anything (involving) construction … You can’t wait to find out (what happens) you have to be proactive,” she said. “Developer-wise they would certainly entertain having them back when things are more amenable and perhaps it will come and maybe it won’t, maybe they will find their vibrancy moving over to Wale road?”
Hamilton said when the Capital City Centre project got underway, some business relocated from there as well, she has seen some of the negative impacts development can have on nearby business. It has even happened to her, saying when there was construction nearby her business she may as well have “closed the doors for the two months” while it was taking place.
“I think for those of us that have grown up with the Coast Collective we knew where it was and quite frankly know it’s a hidden gem, but not easy to get the word out … It doesn’t have that street-side presence,” Hamilton said. “(Now) they have a real opportunity to expand, grow, thrive and really be successful. It’s like family, they have been born and raised here and we would like to see them continue their growth and life here because I do think it brings more to the (community).