Hope springs eternal for the Kimberley Arts Council as they continue their quest to either expand, or at least renovate, Centre 64. At the regular meeting of Council on Monday evening, January 26, 2015, Arts Council stalwarts Mike Redfern and Carol Fergus made their case to Council as to why Centre 64 expansion should be one of the few projects included when the City applies for grants under the federal Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund.
Communities are asked to limit their projects to two when applying to the fund, and Redfern said he hoped to convince Council that Centre 64 should be one of them.
For years, the Arts Council has been wrestling with the inaccessibility of the theatre at Centre 64. The theatre entrance is up two flights of stairs, making access just about impossible for disabled people and many seniors.
There are two solutions, Redfern told Council. One, expand the centre and build an all new ground floor theatre. The expansion can be built into the two lots next door to the centre.
If expansion proves too expensive, the alternative is renovations. Having had the centre examined by a structural engineer, the recommendation was that the roof trusses needed to be strengthened. The Fire Chief has told the Arts Council that they must install a sprinkler system. And finally, theatre accessibility could be dealt with by installing an elevator.
The Arts Council is most interested in expansion, Redfern said, but is also prepared to apply for funds for renovation. Alternatively, he said, with City support the Arts Council could apply for both.
Fergus told Council that over the ten years, the Arts Council had been planning expansion of Centre 64, various sets of drawings had been produced, one with an $11 million building, another for $6 million.
“We can’t afford that type of building,” she said. “We have been working with Council for the past couple of years, looking at the feasibility of renovations on the existing building.”
Renovations alone, if the entire wish list is met, are in the neighbourhood of $1.3 million, but they don’t all have to be done at once. Of primary importance are the elevator, the sprinklers and the trusses. Fergus said the elevator could likely be put in for under $100,000.
Council has yet to have the entire discussion about priorities for available grants, but it is coming as budget deliberations continue, Fergus and Redfern were told.