Gallery exhibits and sales such as this one at the Coast Collective Art Centre

Unanimous vote settles move for Coast Collective

Arts centre operators choose relocation in Colwood over gambling on Heatherbell site

The votes are in and Coast Collective is moving to a new home.

With construction set to begin around the arts centre’s mansion home, Society for Arts on the South Island members voted unanimously Sunday to move from the idyllic Heatherbell Road location along Esquimalt Lagoon to the new Westridge Landing on Wale Road.

“I think what was gratifying was that it was unanimous, that is what really stood out for me,” executive director Cindy Moyer said. “I had hoped the vote would be positive, because the alternative of closing the Coast Collective would certainly be a disappointment.”

The Society, operating the centre out of the 1927-built Pendray House since 2008, collectively decided they needed to relocate to survive. Facing imminent construction on the 12-acre property, with 33 high-end waterfront condos in the works, members voted 23-0 in favour of the move. Developer Pacific Landing welcomed the arts centre to stay, but construction could last for several years.

The move takes the artist collective into a new 3,000-square-foot facility in the same building as the new Holiday Inn Express Suites Victoria – Colwood, which is slated to open Nov. 2 at 318 Wale Rd. The space will be adjacent to the hotel lobby, near a street level restaurant next door, a dance studio and a fitness studio. Ample streetside and underground parking will accompany the space.

“We are looking forward to having a really animated centre where there’s lots going on,” Moyer said. “We’ve been very much in a bird sanctuary and that has been very therapeutic and inspiring in many ways. But this will be a more urban experience and we’re looking forward to it.”

Leasehold improvements to the brand new purpose-built space will begin immediately with the construction of a bathroom, office space, storage space and walls to separate the gift shop, the gallery and the workspace.

The owners of Westridge Landing will foot the multi-thousand dollar bill for the improvements. Company director and part owner, Lloyd Wansbrough, is excited to welcome the arts group to their new home Dec. 1.

“It’s (all) about people,” he said. “Cindy and all the executive of the Collective are just so passionate. They want to see good things for the community as well as bring culture to the West Shore.”

“We saw that as a real positive (with) similar interests to what Westridge is trying to do, so in that way it is a very good fit,” he added.

With a new artisan market coming to the facility on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, Wansbrough said the partnership could also be a fruitful one for Colwood, where he and his family have lived for more than 40 years.

“Here is an opportunity to contribute back to community. There is no other art centre in the West Shore, so I didn’t want to see them move out of the (area) or essentially die a slow death where they are,” he said. “It’s good for the community; it’s way better for Coast, because they will get so much more exposure just based on location. I think as a family we are interested in getting arts and culture into the Western Communities. Here is a way we can do that.”

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

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