City council voted to support the Parksville Beach Festival Society’s plan to use provincial grant money to purchase and install audio and visual equipment in the yet to be constructed outdoor stage.
The society hopes to host events such as dance troupes, choirs, symphony orchestras, student performances, Indigenous celebrations, graduations, Highland Games, jazz bands and theatre productions. It said it will use $40,000 in grant money from the BC Arts Council (BCAC) in addition to its own funds.
Lloyd Derry, director of entertainment for the society, said it hopes to purchase equipment including a sound system with four front end speakers, two bass bins, a mixer, amplifiers, graphic equalizers and microphones. It also plans to purchase choir and drum risers, spotlights and a portable dance floor system.
“We really want to make it accessible for our whole community and beyond and if these things can’t be included, if they don’t have access to them, they’re going to have to go and rent this stuff,” said Derry.
“That gets expensive and could lead to them not even using the facility because it’s just out of their price range.”
The society told council the equipment would not cost the city very much money, but Mayor Ed Mayne said he was concerned about future operational and maintenance costs.
“There’s huge expenses in what you’re proposing. This is not Carnegie Hall, this is a stage that is there for people to use, for local organizations to use,” said the mayor.
“The cheapest part of all of this is buying it. We’re going to have the depreciation values of all this equipment, we’re going to have ongoing maintenance and inspection costs, we’re going to have expertise on setting it up.”
Derry said the main purpose of the stage is to promote local artists, musicians and cultural activities, but investing in the stage’s equipment could help bring in major events.
“This is a fantastic venue and I think the idea you people have is going to create a lot more business for the City of Parksville,” said Coun. Al Greir. “You’re going to be able to bring in very special bands and groups of people, which will ultimately prove to be successful as far as having more people come to town and spend more money.”
Derry said experienced people have already reached out to the society to offer their time with the sound system. “We can attract enough business that we can keep the rental rates reasonable for the locals, but by putting on two or three major events a year, where you have a ticketed performance,” said Derry.
Mayne said he supports the stage, but took issue with the add ons and unknown future costs associated with the gear.
The society has not strayed from the original purpose of the stage, according to Cheryl Dil, president.
“We always wanted to have a symphony orchestra there and dance troupes and we always wanted small, medium and larger bands there,” she said, adding the society could look at how it can contribute to paying the operations and maintenance costs.
Coun. Doug O’Brien’s motion to support the society’s plan was carried with only Mayne opposed.
The project’s tender could be ready by the end of March and could theoretically be built within the next few months, according to Joe Doxey, the city’s acting director of engineering.