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Town of Yarmouth excited to be moving forward with planning process for a downtown arts and culture facility

The town says the Collins Street parking lot presents “unique and superior” possibilities given its proximity to the adjacent art gallery.
The town says the Collins Street parking lot presents “unique and superior” possibilities given its proximity to the adjacent art gallery.

YARMOUTH, N.S. – The Town of Yarmouth is moving forward with the planning process for a new arts and culture facility that it says will be downtown.

The town says the Collins Street parking lot presents “unique and superior” possibilities given its proximity to the adjacent art gallery.

The town says the Collins Street parking lot presents “unique and superior” possibilities given its proximity to the adjacent art gallery.

“Location has always been put forward as a concern; however, the real concern is control and governance,” the town said in a June 23 media release. “We believe if we can come together on the governance, the concerns regarding specific location will easily resolve themselves.”

In the release the town said it had recently met with representatives of Th’YARC where “it was agreed that there was plenty of common interest in the project, and the process of drafting governance requirements should proceed, without delay.”

Th'YARC on Parade Street in Yarmouth

This newspaper has reached out to the president of Th’YARC for comment. READ HERE.

A few days prior, however, YARC president Mitch Bonnar had told a media outlet that they had expressed concerns with stipulations the town had presented during a June 14 meeting and that the governance model the town was proposing would leave Th’YARC as simply a tenant of the new facility.

Asked about Th’YARC feeling squeezed out, Mayor Pam Mood said governance is still outstanding.

“We still have to work that out. We had a two-pager where they had asked the town to come up with some parameters, as a starting point only, and we went directly to best practices for publically-funded infrastructure for this,” she said. “As soon as they’re ready to look at it again we’ll sit down and continue to work towards the best governance model. We’re talking about tapping into millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money and the governance has to be right.”

In its media release the town says, "Our intention is to ensure that we establish a governance structure that is open, transparent, accountable and inclusive of the entire community."

A while back the town hired architect Brian MacKay Lyons and his team to review three feasible downtown locations. Lyons and his team determined the Collins Street parking lot was the best choice.

Architect Brian MacKay-Lyons (centre) joins the discussion by some arts community stakeholders including Ivan Blades and David Gorman during an April session week to explore arts centre possibility.

“We hired Brian to see what the process would be and what it would look like. We also engaged the different arts and culture sectors to tell us what are their needs are and what do they see this as looking like,” Mood said, referring to an April stakeholders’ session that saw a lot of energy in the room regarding the dicussion of a new arts and culture facility.

“The next step with Brian is he is going to bring us a model of everything he heard and put together,” Mood said, noting another stakeholder session will take place in July.

The town’s media release refers to a new “community arts and culture facility” rather than referring to the facility as a new YARC. The release says the town is “committed to the artists and the arts community as a whole, to see this project through, and to engage the arts community every step of the way.”

Collins Street parking lot has been eyed for the location of an arts and culture facility.

Meanwhile, amongst the public there has been a lot of talk about displaced parking if the Collins Street parking lot site is used. The town-owned parking lot is a very busy one.

At the time the town issued its media release 116 vehicles were parked in the lot.

“We understand there’s a lot of cars there and we understand there has to be a place for them to go,” the mayor said, saying she is almost certain a draft of Lyons’ for a facility design maintained some on-site parking.

Parking spots aren’t the only issue, however.

There is also a large house in the lot too. The town says they can work around that.

Meanwhile on it's Facebook page, the Yarmouth Art Society has offered its thoughts on moving ahead with a new arts and culture facility: "The proposed downtown site offers connection to the Art Galley of Nova Scotia, the potential for expansion of the area associated with the visual arts (7000 vs 1000 sq. ft.), the public and community focus on revitalization of downtown, and the value to Yarmouth of an outstanding complex designed by a world recognized architectural firm." The society says it would appreciate support of the downtown site or have people provide reasons for a Parade Street site.

At a June 24 meeting the Yarmouth Art Society approved a motion to support the development of a new Arts and Cultural Centre on the downtown site under consideration.

 

 

 

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