Station Theatre highlighted at council on Monday

Station Theatre board member Tom Foulkes
Station Theatre board member Tom Foulkes addressed council Monday with an update on how the future of the theatre will build on its past successes. Photo credit: Sally Smith.
Posted on: December 11, 2018

Sally Smith

Station Theatre board member, Tom Foulkes, addressed Committee of the Whole, Monday, bringing an update from the theatre to new council members.

It’s been five years since a member of the board last spoke to council, Foulkes commented, and as the town is “poised for heady times” it’s time for another.

“We’re not looking for anything; we’re giving information and [asking] for understanding.”

The Theatre is used 320-340 days each year. In just the past two weeks Canopy Growth has taken over the Theatre three times and Le Boat has been there twice. Foulkes added that the Theatre attracts an audience from Ottawa, Brockville, New York and Vermont; the current show — the Christmas Pantomime — is sold out, and comments for first-time visitors often centre around how unique and amazing the building is.

All the seats (originally donated from the National Arts Centre in Ottawa) have now been refurbished, next year plans are to automate the front doors for better accessibility, and upgrading of the hearing systems in the performance area will get underway.

In other words, he said, an eyesore has been turned into a jewel.

CPR closed its doors in 1996 and applied for a demolition permit; the mayor at the time, Dennis Staples, refused. Eventually CP sold the station to the Town for $1. “They contributed, along with VIA, $50,000 each towards the retrofit,” Foulkes said.

The Town owns the building and completes major structural repairs, any exterior maintenance, snow removal, grass cutting and the HVAC; other major contributions are indirect, Foulkes continued, “in terms of moral support, not pressing for payment, flexible arrangements, paying for heating and insurance and utility bills.”

The Theatre has received three Trillium grants with support from the council and mayor in how to go about the process. The Theatre is responsible for all operating costs plus repairs, maintenance and replacement of assets.

We hope “to continue to operate under the current conditions,” Foulkes concluded.

Briefs briefly

  • Troy Dunlop, Director of Public Works and Utilities, told council eastern Ontario was looking at a salt shortage referencing the labour strike at the Goderich mine. At the moment, salt costs $78 per ton. A sharp rise in the price is expected January 1, 2019 — it could go as high as $125 per ton. The Town of Smiths Falls has extra stock, he said, and will be staying within 2018 budget guidelines in terms of purchases. He commented that last year the Town had 1200 tons at its disposal and only used 600 which was the lowest amount used in the last five years.
  • Dunlop said there have been further challenges with the Bristol Communication System at the Waste Water Plant, and the system is presently being run manually. He noted that the system is “obsolete” and the town is looking for a replacement.
  • Businesses are being canvassed along Beckwith Street regarding loading needs, waste management and how the redesign and building along the street will impact them during the revitalization work. The Town is looking at streetscaping, landscape material like interlock, and street lighting.
  • Committee and board appointments were discussed and confirmed later in the evening. As well, councillors Lorraine Allen and Jay Brennan agreed to be readily acceptable at a moment’s  notice as signing officers for banking documentation.