As a relatively new Bowener (3 years), I haven't been a part of the planning for the new community centre, but I've heard the main components include a new municipal hall and a theatre. I find it disappointing that the plans don't include more sports facilities, like a swimming pool and/or ice rink. Have these already been investigated and ruled out? If so, where can one educate themselves on the research that's been done?
Despite being a professional musician and performer myself, I don't believe yet another performance space should be the first priority for a burgeoning community attempting to attract more density. The performing arts are very important, but venues can always be found, and sometimes interesting spaces make the presentation that much more compelling.
How about a health clinic? Or an indoor swimming pool? Given that we live on an island, shouldn't we make sure our children have easy access to swimming lessons? As much as we enjoy Tunstall Bay pool in the summer, it doesn't quite fill the need year-round, so traveling to the city to access pools and rinks have now become a regular part of life. These are services that I wish my taxes would support.
Here's a quote from Geoff Berner, a prominent Canadian folk musician, who recently commented on this very topic: "If anyone out there is thinking of building a new building for the arts, please stop. Spend the money on the artists, or just on housing for poor artists and their poor audience. Edmonton blew 90 million on an arts centre and now there's no money for artists. Same is happening everywhere I travel. NO MORE WHITE ELEPHANTS!"
While his views reflect his own perspective, I feel there is a commonality here. Building a new theatre will not necessarily make our arts community any healthier, but access to basic sports facilities and health services would strengthen the health of every member of this community and broaden Bowen's appeal to a greater number of potential residents. It's not a matter of either/or, but simply which should come first.