Council approves LSPU Hall funding

David Whalen
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St. Johns council has voted to give the LSPU Hall a $500,000 grant towards renovations. Telegram file photo

St. Johns city council has ratified its year-old agreement to fund renovations to the LSPU Hall, home of the Resource Centre for the Arts.

At a private session prior to the public meeting Monday night, council agreed to ratify an agreement to grant $500,000 to the LSPU Hall matching provincial and federal funding promises provided the LSPU Hall can offer the balance of the project by the end of next year.

City Solicitor Ronald Penney has been instructed by council to write the board of the LSPU Hall indicating the funding will come once the Hall has secured the balance for the project.

The Hall estimates renovations will cost $2.5 million. The city says it estimates renovations will cost $3 million, and adds the Hall will be responsible for the balance.

Last month, doubts about the citys commitment to the historic theatre were raised when it became public that council was mulling over a $300,000 a year investment in the privately owned Capital Theatre. Capital owner Paul Madden said in June his project could only survive with government money.

Mayor Andy Wells says he was the lone dissenting voice at the meeting. He says the costly renovations wont increase the LSPU Halls seating levels.

I think the Capital Theatre project is much more interesting and much more viable and much more exciting and shows greater promise for developing a viable theatre project downtown, assuming theres going to be taxpayer involvement, Wells said.

I know Im whistling in the wind, he said. I know I have no support for that position.

Madden will still be invited to discuss his project with council, but Wells and councillor Art Puddister believe its unlikely hell receive funding now the LSPU Hall deal has been sealed.

Certainly the feeling around council is that we can do one project but not both, Puddister said. I get the feeling the Capital Theatre project is certainly going to be a hard sell around the council table.

Wells says while Madden is welcome to council, he believes it would be pointless.

I think its almost insulting to Paul Madden to do that. Clearly, council has no intentions of taking seriously what hes saying, he said, adding he will vote against any Capital proposal.

Im not going to be putting any public money behind a private businessman when we have places such as the LSPU Hall, the Arts and Culture Centre, Holy Heart and the Majestic Theatre.

Organizations: Capital Theatre, Johns city council, Resource Centre Majestic Theatre

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