Sid Williams Theatre seeks funding from regional district

The Sid Williams Theatre Society is asking the regional district to contribute $20,000 towards its 2012 operating budget.

The Sid has been hit hard in recent years by federal, provincial and BC Gaming cuts. Since 2007 staff workloads have grown while wages and hiring were frozen. Ticket sales had suffered in 2010 due to the struggling economy.

Last year, the SWTS board decided to increase commercial rates and phase-in rental rate increases for non-profit user groups, among other measures. Efforts are also being made to increase society memberships, donations and corporate sponsorship.

The society has 730 members and 150 volunteers.

"The Sid is one of the lowest municipally-subsidized regional theatres in the province yet has one of the highest levels of not-for-profit users in the province," board member Catherine Miller said in a Tuesday presentation to the CVRD committee of the whole.

Last year, the district provided the society with a $5,000 donation, comprising less than one per cent of its operating costs.

Besides the district, the society is also requesting $20,000 from the Town of Comox.

From the City of Courtenay — which owns the building — it is requesting a $195,000 management fee, a $60,000 gaming disbursement and building maintenance services.

Area B director Jim Gillis and Courtenay director Jon Ambler both acknowledged the Sid's place in the community.

"I believe it's a vital and important part of our community," Gillis said.

•Gillis' motion to establish a committee to develop a CVRD/CFB Comox protocol agreement was deferred. The idea is to enable the exchange of information about airport zoning and other matters that may impact the district and member municipalities.

Last month, the committee had deferred another motion from Gillis concerning the Canadian Aeronautics Act, which he would like to have reviewed in order to implement airport zoning to more accurately reflect modern navigation systems. Gillis said zoning has affected the placement of the proposed regional hospital. He is also concerned about eagle and blue heron nesting trees in the vicinity of the airport.

•The committee recommends investing $30,000 into a feasibility study about renovating the curling rink at the exhibition grounds.

•The committee recommended approval of the proposed 2012-2016 financial plan for the emergency shelter/supportive housing land acquisition service. The district purchased three lots in the 800 block of Cliffe Avenue in November, 2010 for $470,000. The only source of revenue for this service is property tax requisition. However, the proposed financial plan for this service sees a reduction of more than $167,000 in tax requisition from the 2011 financial plan due to the early retirement of the debt associated with this service.


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