Colwood committee to discuss proposed performing arts centre

Royal Bay recommended as best location for proposed arts centre up for discussion Jan. 27

A concept drawing by J. Dodd shows a potential interior for the proposed West Shore Centre for the Performing Arts and Royal Bay Theatre

A dream shared by many of a performing arts centre bringing culture, business and nightlife to the West Shore is taking another small step towards reality.

A new report on the proposed performing arts centre for Colwood is on the agenda for the joint meeting of the planning and land use and parks, recreation and culture committees on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

Planning and land use committee chair Shari Lukens said the meeting will be a good opportunity for the public to hear about the latest developments and to offer opinion.

“It’s at this stage, at the committee stage, where the public can really have an opportunity to have input,” Luken said. “Once it goes to council they don’t really have an opportunity to give the input they may want to.”

The report gives recommendations on the type of arts centre that should be built for the size of the community, what it should feature and where it should be.

 

The report’s author Richard Schick is a co-owner of Schick, Shiner and Associates, a theatre consulting company based out of Lake Cowichan that has worked with 300 projects across Canada and beyond. His mandate was to find out the basic information on what kind of theatre was needed, how big it needs to be and generally how much it will cost to build and operate.

The report estimates the project to be in the $35-million range. The best way to pay for that, suggests the report, is to involve partners in the project, such as Camosun College, Royal Roads University or the Canadian College of Performing Arts.

A 650-seat theatre with a 240-seat flexible black box theatre is being recommended as the ideal size for the facility. A collection of studio spaces, a lobby with a coffee shop and a gallery/giftshop are recommended, “to create as much vibrance and as much activity, to bring people to the centre for other reasons than just to buy a ticket,” Schick said.

Of two potential sites identified in the report, one is the former gravel pit, a 10-acre site where Metchosin Road meets the Metchosin/Colwood border.

The other site is the future home of the Royal Bay development.

Schick thinks the choice is an obvious one and recommends Royal Bay as the home for the centre.

“That’s really where it needs to be because the theatre wants to be in the middle of things, it wants other things around it,” Schick said. “A theatre brings value to the community and the community brings value to the theatre. So often you’ve seen theatres stuck out in the middle of nowhere and then people wonder why nobody wants to go there.”

For a time it was thought the arts centre could be combined with the new secondary school being built in the Royal Bay area. Eventually planners determined the needs for culture in the area now and in the future mean having both an arts-focused high school and a community arts centre is warranted.

The project is at an early stage, said Lukens, and the details are still to be sorted out. She said she is confident the arts centre will be built but said it will take some time.

“My heart tells me it will go ahead,” Lukens said. “It’s not going to happen in the next two or three years. It’s still going to be five, seven, 10 years before it’s completed. … There’s still a whole bunch of steps that have to happen.”

Lukens said the next step, should council receive the report, will be to start to talk to potential partners and try to secure a location and funding.

 

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