The Qualicum Beach Multi-Use Cinema Society wants council to include the development of a community cinema in the town’s strategic plan for 2023.
The group, led by Jan Taggart, appeared as a delegation to council on Nov. 23, to share results of their feasibility study on their project. Their initial vision of establishing the theatre at the old Bus Garage location had to be altered when Naked Naturals bought majority of the property.
“We had to pivot to a new location, realizing that a cinema on that site with a new grocery store would just not work particularly in the area of parking, which is already a very controversial issue on that part of town,” said Taggart.
The society is now targeting the town’s works yard location. The town is currently reviewing the prospect of moving the work’s yard to a new location and create a centralized operations for parks and public works.
Potential locations were identified by staff in 2019 that include Qualicum Beach Airport – Ravensbourne Lane East, View Road and Sandpit, Jones Street Parks Yard and Garden Road East Dog Park. Staff favoured the Jones Street parks yard located in the community forest.
Taggart said they had explored the possibility of establishing the cinema at the work’s yard once its operation is moved to another location. They feel it’s the best location for a cinema.
“It was a brilliant opportunity to have part of that property to anchor the East Village by having the multi-use theatre there, along with possible affordable housing or co-op situation,” said Taggart. “And the removal of the old art gallery in that area, the building of the new brew pub and associated businesses, the new residential building underway, it just makes really good sense to have something that’s really important amenity down on that side of the town.”
Taggart also indicated the issue of parking would be easily addressed at the works yard site.
“We know that is always a consideration here because people who have mobility issues and people are also used to just being able to access wherever they’re wanting to go fairly easily,” said Taggart.
Leasing a property new the Qualicum Beach Commons was also considered but Taggart said the School District 69 is unable to commit to it at this time.
Taggart said they’re very hopeful they can come to an agreement with the town to find a near perfect place to establish the cinema.
“It is something that’s going to improve the cultural life, the educational life and the social life of everybody in this community as a multi-generational cinema theatre that offers so much to everyone,” said Taggart. “And we need that property.”
Taggart said working with the town is essential as they are not able to go after large grants and external funding that they require until they can secure a property to build on.
Council made no decision on the delegation’s request.