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Downtown arts centre site confirmed in Yarmouth

One of the biggest concerns about the Collins Street site for a proposed new arts centre is the parking displacement, which could be as many as 115 vehicles.
One of the biggest concerns about the Collins Street site for a proposed new arts centre is the parking displacement, which could be as many as 115 vehicles.

YARMOUTH - The Collins Street parking lot between First and Second streets was approved at the Yarmouth town council meeting on Sept. 21 as the site selected for a proposed new arts centre.

A motion was also unanimously approved by council to secure the services of Hanscomb, a Halifax-based firm, for estimates of construction costs for the project, which is described as occupying 60,000 square feet. The project fee for Hanscomb is $5,500.

MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited has been engaged as consultants to assist the Town of Yarmouth with the arts centre design.

One of the biggest concerns about the Collins Street site is the parking displacement, which could be as many as 115 vehicles.

Mayor Pam Mood says when MacKay-Lyons proposed the Collins Street parking lot for the project, it would include underground parking.

“I want to make it very clear that the Town of Yarmouth is committed to ensuring that there is parking,” she said.

Th’YARC, a long-established organization that has provided a wide variety of entertainment over the years, said early on in the debate of where to locate an arts facility that it would prefer to stay on Parade Street and build a new facility there. However, it’s most major concern is governance.

Mayor Mood continues to hope they come onboard as things move forward.

“We are absolutely committed to local theatre. We have quality local theatre now,” said Mayor Mood.

“We want to ensure that continues and expand on it because there is a tremendous capacity not only in the community but this entire end of the province to expand on that. Th’YARC is a big piece of this going forward.”

She added that the last discussions with Th’YARC board were regarding governance.

“On June 23 we sent them a number of pages with regard to beginning the conversation on governance and we haven’t heard back.

“The tremendous importance is to make sure we’re all on the same page. That we’re not sending mixed messages to the provincial and federal government.  

Th’YARC president Mitch Bonnar says the location of the proposed new arts centre isn’t important. The fact that it’s moving forward is what concerns him.

He says Th’YARC has been trying to come to an agreement on the issue of governance but that meanwhile the town is just plowing ahead. How many members of the arts sector will flock to a new facility, he asked.

“Which means we go out of business and lose all of our talent,” said Bonnar.

 “They (town) don’t want us to operate anything. They want to operate it. They want to design it, they want to build it and decide where it goes.”

On Oct. 10 Brian MacKay-Lyons and his team will be at the Rodd Grand Hotel for a public meeting to discuss the proposed downtown arts centre. Two meetings were held earlier this year with stakeholders to discuss the design of the facility. (NOTE: Originally the date for the meeting was Oct. 5 but it has been changed to Oct. 10.)

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