Show will go on at Nanaimo Centre Stage

NANAIMO – Council approves $160,000 renovation, but stops short of committing full $800,000.

The show will go on at Nanaimo Centre Stage, at least for now.

City council voted Monday to invest $160,000 in the 116-year-old building to replace stucco and brick veneer on the Nicol Street side of the building.

The condition of the building’s exterior, including peeling exterior walls and a decrepit brick chimney, has many worried about the safety of people using the entranceway.

Council considered two other options presented by city staff – do nothing despite the deterioration, or install walk-through scaffolding for two years to protect pedestrians at a cost of about $20,000.

In a 6-3 vote (Councillors Bill McKay, Bill Bestwick and Jim Kipp voted against), council agreed to renovate its cultural asset, but stopped short of committing $800,000 over five years, the cost determined by an engineer to completely revitalize the building’s exterior.

“Option one is simply not viable, and having scaffolding on Nicol Street for two years is also not an acceptable solution,” said Coun. Fred Pattje. “Option three, as difficult and expensive as it is, and staff’s suggestion that it’s a first step in remediation, I’m not looking at it that way … I don’t think we have to commit the entire $800,000 because there are options like fundraising that can be considered.”

The city purchased the building at 25 Victoria Rd. in 2008 for $460,000 for the purpose of providing a small performing arts theatre in the downtown area.

The Centre of the Arts Society currently operates Nanaimo Centre Stage under a licence of use agreement with the city.

The venue has seen increased usage over the past few years with up to 30 arts and culture groups using it annually. The Nob Hill and South End community associations also support the theatre.

Aaramë Robillard, manager for the Centre of the Arts Society, said the investment is a good one for the city.

“Obviously we’re happy council has taken the first step in making the necessary repairs and I think it’s a good investment for the city’s asset and also for the cultural community,” said Robillard, adding that if Nanaimo Centre Stage was not available, there isn’t another venue like it in the city. “There isn’t another theatre of our size that offers the amenities that we do.”

Installing unsightly scaffolding on Nicol Street for two years also turned several councillors off the second option.

Bestwick warned, however, that beginning renovations could lead to a higher bill for taxpayers if more work is discovered once renovations begin.

“The $160,000 is just for the one section of exterior work,” he said. “Option two gives us the time to do the minimum amount of work required.”

McKay said he felt the original purchase of the building was a bad investment, and spending any more money on it “is just throwing good money after bad”, while Kipp said he can’t support work with an expensive bill attached that is only a guess.

“It’s a great little theatre but I don’t want to turn it into a [financial] black hole,” said Kipp.

The discussion comes at a time when the city is undergoing a revision of its 2008 cultural plan as part of the corporate strategic plan initiative. In the plan, culture was deemed one of the four pillars of the community.

“Our mandate as owners of the building is to maintain our assets to the best of our ability, “said Coun. Diana Johnstone, who also sits as chairwoman of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission.

Just Posted

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Laid-off Casino Nanaimo workers launch class-action lawsuit against corporation

Notice of civil claim filed on April 6 at Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo

Beban Pool is expected to re-open Oct. 4 after a vote by councillors at a finance and audit committee meeting Wednesday, June 16. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo will re-open Beban Pool in October

User groups warn COVID-19 pool closures have left a gap in water safety education

Beef to the lady who went onto my property then proceeded to take my large plant from my home. I found out and asked for it returned. You said I was dramatic? You should be ashamed of yourself.
Beefs & Bouquets, June 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts’s body was discovered near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Lotto Max player in Nanaimo wins $500,000

Campbell River lotto player wins $1 million in the Tuesday, June 15 draw

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Lotto Max player in Nanaimo wins $500,000

Campbell River lotto player wins $1 million in the Tuesday, June 15 draw

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens between Port Alberni and Tofino

Multi-vehicle accident temporarily closed highway in both directions

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 4 deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-staff as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Most Read