The City of Nanaimo has approved more than $4 million for the expansion of the Port Theatre.
On Monday, city councillors approved a motion that will see the city provide $4.6 million to the Port Theatre Society, the group that operates the Port Theatre, to help pay for the expansion of the downtown venue.
However, the money comes with some conditions, including the requirement that the Port Theatre Society must agree to an ongoing obligation to raise money, up to $8.6 million, and actively pursue various funding opportunities from the provincial and federal governments.
The approved motion was revised from a previous motion that was approved by councillors last month during an in-camera meeting. The previous motion saw city councillors agreeing to provide $4.6 million in funding but on the conditions that the Port Theatre Society repay the money in the event that it was able to raise more than the funding goals.
In speaking as a delegation to city council on Monday, Bruce Halliday, general manager of the Port Theatre, said council’s decision back in March kills any opportunity for the society to apply for addition funding from the provincial or federal government.
“The federal government expects municipal contribution. Any mention of this being a repayable loan would exclude us entirely,” Halliday said.
The Port Theatre’s $12.6-million expansion plans include the addition 220-seat studio space and multiple rehearsal spaces.
“This project represents the completion of our preforming arts centre,” Halliday told councillors. “This facility will be the only one of its kind on Vancouver Island and will create huge opportunities to make Nanaimo a true cultural destination.”
The Port Theatre Society intends to apply for grant money from the Build Canada Fund, Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Cultural Spaces Fund and Canada 150.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the motion. Coun. Ian Thorpe was absent.