PORT HARDY—The experience for artists performing at the Civic Centre in Port Hardy could hit a new high note, thanks to plans to upgrade the stage area in the venue.
Malcolm Fleeton spoke during last week's Port Hardy Council meeting as a delegate for the North Island Concert Society, asking for the council's backing in a grant application.
Fleeton told council he was looking for a quick approval to meet the deadline for a $50,000 grant available through the province's BC Creative Spaces funding.
He explained that the current stage was uneven and in need of improvement, and that dance groups were currently unable to perform on the surface.
"Visitors are a little perturbed (at the current stage)," said Fleeton.
The grant would allow a larger permanent stage to be erected in the centre, along with a moveable drum riser, electrical upgrades, improved wing areas and more storage. The planned stage would also have a moveable wheelchair ramp, improving accessibility and facilitating the move of heavy equipment to and from the stage.
In a cost breakdown, Fleeton expected the project to cost in the region of $70,000. If the grant were approved, the NICS and the Lions Club would combine to add $10,000 towards the project, with Fleeton asking the council to approve the funding for the remaining balance, and add a letter of support to the grant proposal.
"It could really put a significant upgrade into the Civic Centre," he said.
Mayor Bev Parnham praised the "excellent project", noting that, "When the Civic Centre was built we didn't have stage funding; it's something that's been niggling in the back of our minds."
The motion to support the grant application was carried by councillors, with Fleeton adding the new stage could potentially be in place for the next NICS concert series. The old stage would be placed into storage on completion of the project.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans responded last week to a Dec. 17 letter from Port Hardy Council on the DFO's staffing in the town.
In what is by now a recurring theme on the North Island, the DFO relocated an aquaculture management biologist from Port Hardy to Campbell River last year.
The letter, from the DFO's Regional Director General Susan Farlinger, said the move was "to provide for better delivery of compliance evaluations for fish health and environmental performance programs."
The letter went on to say that two further positions slated for Port Hardy have not been filled due to budget considerations.
Mayor Parnham told council, "We've got to continually be on these guys and make sure they bring staffing levels up to what they promised."
In other correspondence, the council discussed a letter from the City of Enderby to the Hon. Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, Minister of Health on doctor shortages.
Like much of the North Island, the Okanagan city faces difficulty in attracting and retaining physicians. The letter addresses potential amelioration of the situation through changing the accreditation procedures for internationally-trained medical graduates, and asks the minister for a meeting to discuss steps that could make rural B.C. more attractive to physicians.
The letter echoes the experiences and concerns of the Local Working Group on health issues.
"It'll be interesting to see if Howie (Cyr, Enderby Mayor) gets any different response than we got," said Mayor Parnham. "We'll keep on top of this."
Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan wrote to council asking it to endorse the upcoming National Health and Fitness Day on June 1.
The aim of the day is to increase participation in physical activities, promoting both individual health and local fitness facilities.
Council agreed to proclaim the day Nation Health and Fitness Day and to contact local pool staff seeking input on any offers they could provide to promote the day.
Auxiliary outfits FD
During staff reports coun. Rick Marcotte paid tribute to the Ladies Auxiliary, who provided six new sets of jackets and trousers for local firefighters at a cost of $2,400 a set.