Qualicum Beach’s old fire hall to be remodelled for high tech businesses

The town wants to help start-up companies with affordable office space

The Town of Qualicum Beach will be renovating the old firehall and turning it into an office studio that will accommodate start-up high tech businesses.

The town has seen the creative marketplace growing and considers it to be a future economic driver for the local economy.

The area is rapidly becoming a hub for creative workers, including graphic designers, sound engineers and video game designers. These professions, according to CAO Daniel Sailland, are attracting a mobile workforce with the potential to grow, and may lead to the establishment of a high-tech business network in the region.

An example of this is the award-winning pioneer in virtual reality, Cloudhead Games.

In 2014, the town established a digital media studio in the old train station that offers business-minded individuals low-cost, hot desk opportunities, and two incubation offices that allow small groups of three to five people. However, it does not provide much room for businesses to expand. The town has already seen two startup companies leave the region due to lack of affordable space to suit their needs.

“That became too small,” said Sailland. “We needed a larger space to accommodate these companies. And that’s where the old fire hall comes into play.”

The bays of the old fire hall can provide an ideal open location for the installation of desk spaces in the downtown core and it is also close to a myriad of amenities. Once remodelled, it will be able to provide space for up to 10 extra people. The plan is to conduct minor improvements that include upgrading electrical and flooring, fixing the bathroom to meet building codes, and paint and drapes to create an ideal ambiance to meet the needs of tech companies.

At present, the top floor is being leased by Cloudhead Games, which employs about 14 people and is rapidly expanding. Sailland said Cloudhead will be the first company in line to accommodate the renovated old fire hall.

“That’s because they’ve been doing well,” said Sailland.

Sailland said they are hoping once the start-up tech companies grow bigger they will be able to move into a building of their own.

The cost to rent the new space will be below market value and the lease is for 18 months, said Sailland.

“There’s a reassessment after 18 months and because we’re new to this and we’re feeling our way across, we’re probably looking at three- to five-year windows with any one company and then we provide opportunity for another company,” said Sailland. “This certainly allows companies to start from a hot-desking model all the way through growing into a company and then stepping into full-market rates and the regular market.”

Sailland said they are adapting to the needs of the industry and are exploring this business incubation concept for the town’s economic benefit.

The cost of the project is around $19,932. The town has just been awarded $5,000 for the project by the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Northern Community Economic Development program.

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach rejects elimination of strata age restrictions

Councillors raised issue of town’s lack of housing strategy

Residents vocalize opposition to Parksville homeless housing

Council gives go-ahead to zoning for 52-unit project during contentious meeting

Parksville-Qualicum MLA grills minister over speculation tax

Stilwell supports RDN bid for exemption from legislation

Man dies in highway crash in Nanoose Bay

Man in his mid-60s was thrown from his vehicle, alcohol believed to have been a factor

RDN to add fee for cannabis retail applications

Staff expects high volume of applicants after recreational cannabis is legalized

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

SurvivorPQB supports local charity

Readers vote for their favourites and a chance to win $250 in groceries

Golden Knights win 4-1, remain undefeated against Canucks

Vegas gets points from 12 players in dominating effort versus Vancouver

Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Rescued Comox canoer credits those ‘at the right place, at the right time’

James Milne was rescued in a hypothermic state Sunday near Goose Spit

Open house set for Parksville supportive housing project

Island Crisis Care Society to host March 20 session at PCCC

Proposed gun bill attacked by gun owners and shooting victims

The federal government tabled the bill today in order to tighten the sale and tracking of firearms

New anti-radicalization centre in the works for B.C.

Centre aims to help ‘vulnerable individuals on the path to radicalization’ before they turn to crime

Most Read