Sunday, November 29, 2009
Royal City Record
Massey Theatre executive director Jessica Schneider said their first choice would be to have the city own the theatre, but the society but would be willing to own initially to give the city a sense of security, she said.
"It's an option for the short term," said Schneider.
Board of education chair James Janzen said the district couldn't just give away the Massey Theatre to the society because it's public property the district holds in trust.
If the city took over ownership of the Massey, it could be arranged through a land exchange between the city and the district, he said.
McEvoy said he would personally support the city owning the Massey if it were "financially doable."
The biggest roadblock is where to locate the secondary school. There are many constraints on the Mercer block site, including a large portion of land where the school currently sits that is being dedicated as a cemetery.
That leaves the properties currently occupied by Mercer Stadium, Massey Theatre and the skateboard park as options. The district owns the theatre while the stadium and skateboard park are city-owned.
Jeff Melgram will moderate the workshop. He was also involved in the community workshops earlier this year that helped generate the locations for the new middle and elementary schools.
The information meeting and workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 8 starting at 6:30 p.m. at Century House. The public is asked to pre-register for the meeting. Further information will be available on the district's website (www.sd40.bc.ca).
Phone: 604-519-1066 Fax: 604-526-6358
The public is asked to pre-register for the meeting. Further information will be available on the district's website (www.sd40.bc.ca).
Phone: 604-519-1066 Fax: 604-526-6358
Monday, November 23, 2009
This is a guest post by Frances Monteleone, drama teacher at New Westminster Senior Secondary from the Tenth to the Fraser blog. [Click title to go to the original post.]
A theatre represents the heart of a community; a single performance can unite strangers and evoke a sense of belonging and understanding. New Westminster cannot lose its beloved Massey Theatre.
During this period of economic breakdown and resulting budget cuts, we must continue to recognize what is integral to our city’s livelihood. Moreover, we cannot turn a blind eye to the many benefits this particular stage has provided to the students in our district. We must make every effort to preserve and save an aging building that has presented its users with so many opportunities throughout its sixty years of history.
I have had the privilege of directing numerous shows on the Massey Stage, including sold-out performances of Annie and Bye Bye Birdie. It is imperative that the students continue to have access to this particular theatre. Anything smaller would not suffice.
The more we work together the happier we’ll be. Let’s find a solution so that everyone can stand up and applaud.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
We believe that not all high school siting options have been properly explored. We urge you to consider a public consultation process.
We are proud of our city. These facilities and amenities are not only physical assets, but are a vital piece of our cultural heritage, with many service organizations having donated tens of thousands of dollars towards enhancements at these facilities. The memories and legacy of past games, performances, competitions and championships infuses and enhances the fans and participants in today’s games, performances, competitions and championships at these venues—and makes them that much more meaningful and memorable.
We urge you to make the planning and construction of the new high school an opportunity for a community building process instead of one that could fracture and damage our community spirit.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Speaking to the city's suggestion that the district needs to bring more details about the district's potential plans for the long-overdue replacement high school, Janzen said the district needs to know what options the city is willing to discuss before it wastes staff time and spends a lot of money on options that the city might not be willing to explore.
"What we need from the city is some information about what they are prepared to do. ... We haven't heard from the city yet on what options they are prepared to look at," said Janzen. "(The district) doesn't want to spend $50,000 on a consultant to say this is how much it will cost to replace the track, if the city has no interest in doing a land swap with us. That would just be a waste of money."
Fine and good: let the finger-pointing stop and collaboration begin!
- John Oliver
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Letter to the Editor, Royal City Record
by Susan Wandell
It would be a mistake to compare the Massey Theatre to the Burr or to the new multi-use theatre that the city is proposing in its yet-to-be-constructed civic centre. Each venue has completely different purposes. The fact is, the Massey Theatre is to the arts community what the wooden floor is to the lacrosse community - that is, irreplaceable. Further, the Massey Theatre could not be rebuilt for the cost of the required upgrades.
The Georgia Straight reports that the mayor suggests the school district needs to find the answers for the Massey. That comment is not helpful.
The city needs to take some responsibility. It was the city who swapped the land with the school district 50 years ago and did not decommission the existing cemetery, thereby resulting in today's capital project complexities. To resolve today's situation, there needs to be a renewed partnership to resolve school and community need, especially considering that the school district will continue to grow because of the city's approved new developments.
Report by Theresa McManus
Royal City Record
"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts," said New Westminster Secondary School student Krista Gibbard, reading the quote by Gabrielle Roy that appears on the Canadian $20 bill.
Mike Redmond, chair of the Massey Theatre Society, said the future of Massey Theatre isn't in jeopardy because it's old, uneconomical or unused.
He said it is threatened only because the school board appears to be ready to throw up its hands and deem that the easiest and cheapest way to build a new high school is to tear down Massey Theatre.
"You have to work together with us to ensure any decision about the Massey are informed decisions," he said. "We are not asking you to write a blank cheque."
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Tom Durrie spoke eloquently at the City Council meeting on November 9. Tom spearheaded the movement to save the York Theatre from demolition last year. It was great to hear him voice his support and give context to the value of the Massey theatre to the entire region.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Cities all over our country would love to have a large theatre like the Massey in their community. People spend years lobbying and fundraising in the hopes of one day having a theatre like the Massey. In New Westminster, we already have this wonderful theatre. And it is run efficiently with minimal taypayer support. Why in the world would we even think about demolishing it?
We need leadership from our school district officials. We need them to:
• Recognize that Massey Theatre is a valued asset to the community, and in fact, to the region, and that it is an integral part of what makes New Westminster a complete community.
• Send a clear signal to Massey Theatre that its future is secure, and that its lease will be extended, so that the Massey Theatre Society can get on with serving and supporting the arts community, instead of spending its energy on fighting for its survival;
• Work with the education ministry and the city to develop a new plan for the high school that builds around Massey Theatre and Mercer Stadium, so that the arts and sports communities are not negatively affected.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I have begun several times over the years to write a letter to the school board and city councilors of New Westminster out of sheer frustration and bewilderment, but I have always curbed my desire by thinking “It’s ok, they’ll get it together”. In the last municipal election I felt strongly that New Westminster residents would vote in new representation on the board and in the city in hopes of making some positive changes, but again (“the nice New Westminster residents that we are”) we re-elected virtually the exact same people who have made extremely bad or NO decisions that have greatly affected our wonderful city.
I do not like confrontation, which is another reason I have not spoken up publicly, but really…. “What is going on!?!?!?!?!?!?!“
I do not know my facts as to when, how and why things have taken place, but what I do know is my eldest son was supposed to be the first graduating class from the ‘NEW HIGH SCHOOL’…. He is now in his second year of post secondary education (the school was to be completed in 2007). I know that before a contract was secured for construction of the new high school, demolition began!!!!!!!!!! I know that my son was one of many students that were exposed to asbestos when demolition of the high school was underway….I know that NWSS has been deemed essential to tear down and rebuild for years. I don’t know if his brother who is in grade 9 this year will see completion of the new high school before he graduates.
I know that Massey Theatre was closed down during the NWSS demolish fiasco, and continued to be closed pending a decision on new construction of the still un-built, undecided NEW high school. I know that while Massey Theatre was closed, my son, among the many other music students and staff left school property each day to attend their classes at the generously provided space at the Royal City Christian Centre. I know that a lot of inconvenience was endured and great revenue was lost due to the closure of Massey Theatre. I know that Massey Theatre now faces a possible wrecking ball because it doesn’t meet today’s building codes. “How many of our solid, old, ‘non-leaky’, heritage and non-heritage homes and public buildings in New Westminster do meet up to present day building codes? Do we tear down our solid structures or do we repair them as needed!?” I know that Massey Theatre is a major part of our heritage and culture and is of exceptional value and significance in our ‘RoyalCity’. We need to realize the difference between what is of value to keep and what must be replaced. We need the art in New Westminster and we are proud to show case them in the beautiful Massey Theatre. We also desperately need a newly constructed high school – one we can be proud of too.
I know excessive money and endless time has already been spent on analyzing and re-analyzing a new high school location. Let’s not make foolish decisions. Who out there has sound, workable solutions? We need a new high school and we need to keep Massey Theatre.
Now I am only left with questions. Can the cemetery be decommissioned and the high school built there? Can the skate park soil be stabilized and the new school built there? Can we demo and build in stages on the existing site? I’m sure many people have questions, ideas and suggestions.
It is truly far beyond time that New Westminster got it together!!!! I don’t know about every other New Westminster resident, but I am exasperated and embarrassed with the grasping at straws, backward thinking and impulsive ideas and inactions that continue to plague us. I can truly see why many students have left the New Westminster school district to attend school in other well-operating districts.
When can we expect viable solutions and see positive actions in this City of New Westminster that we want to be proud of?
New Westminster, B.C.