Location of unbuilt performing arts centre an issue

Township of Langley and Langley City council approve task force

A preliminary study of a possible performing arts centre was approved by the councils of both Langleys on Monday, May 13, but not without some fussing over the location and cost of the facility by two Township councillors.

“It’s probably going to end up in the City of Langley,” Councillor Kim Richter complained when the matter came up during the afternoon session of Township council.

“If we’re spending $10,000 so [Langley City] Mayor [Peter] Fassbender can reiterate his downtown core concept, I don’t think that’s money well spent.”

Councillor David Davis was more concerned about the price tag, noting the Township is already committed to a large waterworks project and a new community centre for Aldergrive.

“Is this going to become a big snowball [financially]?” Davis said.

“I’m kind of worried about that.”

Davis and Richter voted no when it came time for council to consider endorsing  the terms of reference for a performing arts and cultural centre advisory planning task force and to kick in $10,000 of the cost.

Other members of Township council voted in favour.

Councillor Steve Ferguson said he had no problem working with the other Langley.

“I think it’s a great idea to include the City of Langley,” Ferguson said.  “It expands our boundaries. It’s a good idea to move forward and get the ball rolling.”

Councillor Bev Dornan said both Langleys have been talking about a centre for years.

“I think we need this first step,” Dornan said.

Councillor Bob Long said he thought “it’s great we’ve been invited to play in the sandbox,” while Councillor Grant Ward said it was about time preliminary work started.

“The Township of Langley deserves to have some kind of performing arts theatre,” Long said.

Township Mayor Jack Froese said locating the centre in the City would not necessarily be a bad thing, noting the Gateway of Hope homeless shelter, though located in the City, serves both communities.

That night, Langley City council offered its official support for the creation of a Performing Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, which will be tasked with determining if the community, in fact, needs a centre for performing arts and whether it would make sense economically to build one.

The committee will represent a partnership among both the City and Township of Langley, as well as the Langley School District, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Trinity Western University.

Each participating group is required to contribute $10,000 toward a development consultant.

Among the issues the committee will examine are what size facility would be best suited to the community and what types of groups it would be designed to attract, explained Fassbender.

Will it work from a financial perspective and what type of governing structure would best suit the community’s needs, are two more questions that would require answers, he said.

The committee would also seek financial support from all levels of government as well as private sources.

Fassbender noted that there has been a long-standing demand for such a facility in the Langleys. He pointed specifically to the efforts of the four local Rotary Clubs which have, for the past three years, sponsored the Langley Has Talent competition — a contest aimed at raising both awareness of the need for a performing arts centre as well as money for its development.

The formation of the committee is not a guarantee that a facility will be built, the mayor cautioned, but a step toward determining its feasibility.

However, having both local universities on board is a very positive step, he added.

The Performing Arts and Culture Advisory Committee has already been endorsed by TWU, KPU, and the Township, Fassbender said, adding the School District is expected to address the issue at its next meeting.

“This is wonderful, but once word gets out there is a study being done, a lot of optimistic people are going to think we’re getting an arts centre,” said Councillor Gayle Martin.

The study is part of a process, she added. But it doesn’t mean the end result will necessarily be the construction of a performing arts centre.

“Though that would be wonderful.”

It’s not a commitment, Fassbender agreed.

“This process is to answer as many questions as we can, and maybe raise more that we haven’t thought of.”

— with files from Brenda Anderson

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