Last week, Steve Rio asked an interesting question. Speaking on behalf of many people new to Bowen, “Is this the community centre we want?” In particular, he has singled out the “performance hall” as the overly expensive, un-needed asset of the proposal. “I still can’t make sense of how we would use it,” he says. I guess Steve does not attend any live performances by family members, friends or professional artists. He seeks the specific breakdown of costs related to the use of the hall for “the arts” as opposed to “recreation,” suggesting that the costs associated with the performance aspect of the facility are the ones that are not feasible or needed. Instead, he would rather see the focus go to a “skate park” or “climbing wall” (both of which are primarily for able-bodied youth). The performance hall will serve a much broader demographic of our community; from the very young to the elderly, and all in between; from the physically fit to the most vulnerable. The current proposal has a far greater reach than a few specific projects for a narrower demographic, and in my view, the costs have been justified.
A community centre that can accommodate both recreational and cultural activities is common on almost all the small islands and towns in B.C.
Bowen Island stands out as a community that has been unable so far to come together around a plan for one here. While not perfect in its current conception, it is the best we have come up with to date. I find it cynical and narrow-minded to once again see recreation pitted against culture. Both are important and necessary. A place where live performance can be shared enables us all to find out more about ourselves and our community. If we truly are a community of people who seeks a higher quality of life for all of us, including the most vulnerable, then this proposal is the closest we have come to creating that.
Cynicism is the most comfortable chair in the house. It is easy to sit on the side, question everything and do nothing. With this approach, nothing will happen. To turn down this proposal and delay, yet again, a community center from happening, because one can’t see what is currently in it for themselves, seems self-focussed and short-sighted.
The cost associated with the performing arts aspect of the project enables the facility to be used as a space where everyone can see and hear properly what is being presented. I will wager that in the future Steve will find himself at the facility, either in the audience or on stage, when a new resident of Bowen (who can be easily seen and heard) complains about not being properly consulted on the proposed skate park or climbing wall being built.