Qualicum Beach staff will be working with two groups to blend proposals for the town’s old bus garage site.
Jack Wilson, part of a committee proposing a cinema and brew pub on the old bus garage site, gave a presentation to council on the project during a committee of the whole meeting Wednesday (May 16).
“When visitors first come to Qualicum Beach, they come off the freeway, around the roundabout and down the beautiful boulevard with trees and come to the downtown and what they see on the left-hand side is a parking lot and old cinder building.”
Wilson said the committee has come up with an idea for an art deco theatre, possibly with an old-fashioned marquee, with a brew pub next door.
He said the cinema would also be acoustically designed for musical events, choirs and speaking events, and could even become a venue for a mini TED Talks event.
As for the brew pub, Wilson said, the committee has spoken to local groups in the craft beer industry who would be interested in constructing and managing a brew pub.
“One caveat they have told us, though, is they would want to purchase the property on which the brew pub is located in a way to make it a more standard commercial enterprise,” said Wilson, adding that the money received for the sale could be applied to the development of the theatre.
He said the committee was looking for a commitment from council to go forward with this, suggesting the town subdivide the property into two lots and zone the sites specifically for the cinema and brew pub.
Coun. Neil Horner wondered about the financial viability of a cinema and asked if it was backed by any investors.
Wilson responded by saying it would be a community amenity, adding it would probably take a bit of a subsidy from the town.
Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said the town has been looking for a vision for that property for years. He asked Wilson if the cinema would be town-owned and operated or a private function.
Wilson said the property and building would be owned by the town, but the cinema could be operated by a society.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek initially made a motion for town staff to work with the cinema/brew pub proponents on the feasibility and viability of the project and also include a business plan and report back to council.
However, Coun. Barry Avis made an amendment to the motion to blend the cinema/brew pub proposal with a separate proposal from The Old School House Arts Centre for the property.
Council voted in favour of the amendment.
TOSH’s proposal, said executive director Corinne James, could include a senior facility, family townhouses, pub/restaurant/commercial space, artists’ studios and park space in the centre.