Nanaimo city councillors approved the first three readings of a bylaw authorizing the city to borrow $4.5 million to fund the construction of the Port Theatre’s proposed community performing arts centre expansion project. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo council supports borrowing $4.6M for Port Theatre expansion

City councillors pass first three readings of borrowing bylaw

Expansion of Nanaimo’s Port Theatre has gained further support from city council.

During a meeting on Monday night, Nanaimo city councillors approved the first three readings of a bylaw authorizing the city to borrow $4.5 million to fund the construction of the Port Theatre’s proposed community performing arts centre expansion project.

Councillors also approved providing an additional $100,000 in funding towards the project. That money will come from the city’s strategic infrastructure reserve fund. Both motions were approved unanimously.

The Port Theatre’s proposed performing arts centre project would feature a 50-240-seat performance space, two rehearsal spaces and is estimated to cost $21.2 million, with $15.5 million sought through a federal infrastructure grant request which councillors supported late last year. The remaining money would come from the city and the Port Theatre Society.

Should councillors pass final reading of the $4.5-million borrowing bylaw, it would result in a one-per cent property tax increase spread out over three years.

The Port Theatre Society has been attempting to expand the theatre for years. After attempts to expand were scrapped in 2009, the society revived plans in 2013 with the hopes that the project could be completed in 2017. Although councillors had approved contributing $4.6 million towards the project in 2014, attempts to secure federal funding failed along with a potential sponsorship deal, causing the project to stall until recently.

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