Prince Charles Theatre issue divides RDCK directors

Web Lead

  • Jan. 27, 2011 12:00 p.m.

A delegation to the Jan. 17 Creston Valley services committee meeting revealed a deep divide among directors when it comes to the operation of Prince Charles Theatre.

Creston Community Auditorium Society representative Joanna Wilson presented the findings of a survey the society recently undertook. It indicates broad support for the theatre to be affordable to user groups and those attending events.

There was no agreement on what role the Regional District of Central Kootenay should play by committee members Mayor Ron Toyota, Area A director Garry Jackman, Area B director John Kettle and Area C director Larry Binks.

“You are giving the school district a pass here,” Kettle said, referring to a 2009 decision by School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) last year to increase rental fees to recover the full cost of operating the theatre. The Town of Creston and regional directors provided some grant funding to lower those costs when user groups said they wouldn’t be able to afford the rent.

Jackman said that Prince Charles The-atre should be considered another necessary facility in the Creston Valley and that the regional district should help fund it.

“We subsidize the users of the recreation and aquatic centre by providing 100 per cent of the capital costs and 70 per cent of the operating costs through taxation,” he said. “For some people, the theatre is their leisure. …

“This is why government exists in society. Facilities and services will eventually collapse without government subsidies. We subsidize things in our society that we value. We have to ask ourselves if it isn’t time to start (funding the theatre).

“We (the regional district) are the ones who haven’t stepped up.”

Kettle said that by not participating in any joint use agreements with the RDCK, the school district wasn’t showing a willingness to work with local government. He advocated a meeting with new superintendent of schools Jeff Jones.

“I see real value in the arts,” said Binks. “But I want to defer judgment until we talk to the school board.”

•The committee also received a report from the Creston Valley Regional Airport Society. Society treasurer Mary Angus said that volunteers have been successful in keeping the runway clear of snow to ensure medical flights can continue throughout the winter.

Equipment purchases in the last year include a blower sweeper for the runway, a fire extinguisher system, a 25,000-gallon water tank for fire suppression, and a plow, Bobcat and sprayer. Three web cams have been installed to provide live updates of airport conditions for pilots.

For the past two years, the Creston Valley Airport has been operated by the society on a contract funded by the RDCK and Town of Creston.

•Wendell Marshall, arena repairs project manager, reported that plans for a major renovation in the John Bucyk Arena are moving ahead. The concrete floor that makes up the ice rink, concession area and old change rooms area will be removed as soon as the hockey season ends. New cooling and heating systems will be installed and then covered with a new concrete surface. A new concession will be constructed and arena boards and glass will be replaced.

Marshall said the project is slated for completion in August.

•A report from Creston and District Public Library representatives indicated that more library closures may be necessary if the RDCK doesn’t increase funding in its 2011 budget. Higher operating costs and costs incurred by negotiating a union contract in 2010 have challenged the library board to maintain services at their previous levels, board members reported.

“We have a very good contract that allows flexibility,” chief librarian Ann Day said. “Fernie went through a similar time when its library employees unionized — it had closures to help cover the initial costs but now it is pretty much back to normal.”

Day told Kettle that library volunteers have continued to donate time and expertise and that there has been no decline in their participation.