Artist rendering of the Parksville Beach Festival Society’s proposed outdoor performance stage that the group hopes to construct in the Community Park by 2020. - Submitted by the Parksville Beach Festival Society

Society requests funding, maintenance help from city for proposed Parksville outdoor theatre

Total capital cost of project estimated at approximately $850,000

The Parksville Beach Festival Society was back before city council on Monday night with updates on the group’s proposed outdoor performance stage for the Community Park and with some requests of council.

The outdoor amphitheatre is proposed to be built in the section of the park near the picnic area, across from the baseball diamond and will be 50-feet-wide by 35-feet-deep. The theatre would accommodate small and large musical groups, dance groups, plays and symphony orchestras with the focus of being culturally inclusive.

Upon completion, the society will gift the structure to the City of Parksville to operate and maintain. In exchange, the society would request usage of the facility for their 10 outdoor concerts during Beach Fest (typically occurring mid-July to mid-August).

The total capital cost of the project is estimated to be approximately $850,000 but Derry said the provincial and federal government suggest a 20 per cent contingency, bringing the cost to just more than $1 million.

The stage was originally proposed to the city in 2017 for the Community Park Master Plan and Lloyd Derry, entertainment director with the Parksville Beach Festival Society, said the project has garnered a lot of support from the community.

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“Summer of 2018 we conducted an extensive public consultation from which we received outstanding support from the general public,” Derry told council members. “We gathered 1,314 signatures from voting Parksville residents all in favour of moving the theatre as a short-term initiative in the Community Park Master Plan.”

The stage is proposed to be accessible for mobile devices, it will include two dressing rooms with gender-neutral washrooms for performers and a storage room.

The seating area between the proposed stage and the picnic shelter, Derry said, could accommodate approximately 4,400 people in lawn chairs.

Derry added that the location of the stage is angled north so sound from performances would project towards the ocean, across the grass and “amongst the trees which will work as natural sound absorbing barriers.”

Cheryl Dill, Parksville Beach Festival Society president, said in order to move forward with the proposed stage, the society needs help from the city.

“We’d like to ask for three things; one is the approval for us to work with staff on one grant for gathering places in the Community Park, secondly the financial backing and thirdly the operational support,” Dill said.

Dill asked the city for support in applying for a Community Culture and Recreation grant that is due on Jan. 23.

“If the municipality applies that could fund up to 73 per cent of the project,” Dill said.

Dill said the grant requires proof of funding in place prior to application and requested the city provide the society with financial backing.

“We’re requesting council identifies funds in the 2019 budget to cover the capital cost of the outdoor theatre, but please note that this financial backing is required only for the purposes of securing the grant, not for the actual project,” Dill said.

“In 2019, our society would like to initiate a major campaign to raise funds for the capital cost of this theatre, be it from grants or donations from area businesses, organizations, potential user groups and individuals,” Derry said. “With 100 per cent successful grants, it looks like the shortfall would be about $300,000. Our society already has $138,000 in our community project fund so that leaves a shortfall of about $200,000 that we would need to raise and we would do that before we would consider proceeding with the project.”

The society’s final request was for the city to commit to the operations and maintenance of the facility, that will be gifted to the city upon completion.

“What we’re doing with the design of the facility to minimize maintenance costs is to install a metal clad roof with a life expectancy of 50 years and roof beams that will endure a lifetime.” Derry said.

If the society is able to raise the funds successfully, Derry said he’s hopeful to have the stage built and ready to go by summer 2020.

Council directed staff to include the outdoor performance stage in the city’s application for provincial grant funding to improve the Community Park. Staff was also directed to allocate $1.2 million in the 2019 capital budget for construction and to allocate ongoing funding in the budget for the long-term maintenance and operation of the facility.

“Just to be clear, our society is not asking the city for any capital funding,” Derry said. “But some short-term financial support may be required during construction while awaiting approved grant funds to be released.”

karly.blats@pqbnews.com

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