A Capital Regional District program aimed at planning, developing and funding performing arts facilities in the Greater Victoria Region isn’t receiving any applause from Juan De Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks.
The CRD board approved setting aside $150,000 for the project and directed staff to begin the process of establishing a service, under the guidance of a new committee. Paying jointly for the service requires a CRD bylaw, requiring approval from all member jurisdictions.
While the idea moved forward, Hicks and several other directors including Lanny Seaton and Denise Blackwell from Langford, Gary Holman from Salt Spring Island and Ryan Windsor from Central Saanich, opposed the idea.
“I felt in all fairness we are so far away from that service that we shouldn’t be forced to take part in it,” said Hicks, pointing out Youbou is closer to the McPherson Playhouse in downtown Victoria than Port Renfrew.
Hicks estimated support for the program would cost the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area about $30,000 a year.
Blackwell said her city already financially supports arts on the West Shore and has plans to build its own performing arts venue. She and Seaton said their council isn’t likely to support sharing financially in a regional facilities plan.
Sooke Coun. Jeff Bateman said he is in favour of exploring what the plan would mean for Sooke and the region.
“This is a first step and we’ll see what emerges,” he said.
Board chair Colin Plant suggested all municipalities, including those that already contribute to the arts in their own communities, stand to benefit from a regional service.
“That’s the whole goal, that we will all benefit,” he said. “There’s no doubt that when Langford builds a facility, it will be a regional facility at 1,400 seats, or 800 seats. That is just inevitable.”
While the establishment of a service is called for, he added, all CRD jurisdictions will be asked specifically what they would want to see before a bylaw returns to the CRD board.
– with files from Don Descoteau