February 19, 2019 8:32 am
Updated: February 19, 2019 3:53 pm

The Grand Theatre looks to draw $2M from city for $8M renovation plan

London's Grand Theatre on Richmond Street.

Liny Lamberink / 980 CFPL

One of London’s most prominent stages is looking for municipal funding to cover part of an $8-million renovation.

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The Grand Theatre brought its request to the corporate services committee on Tuesday, asking for a $2-million funding commitment drawn from the London’s tourism infrastructure reserve fund.

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The renovation would bring new seating, lighting, and a new sound system to the Grand, along with an expansion of its wardrobe and lobby.

The Grand also wants to replace four of the building’s seven roofs and modernize a number of spaces within.

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City staff recommended the request be deferred a year until the tourism infrastructure reserve fund can generate more money, but at Tuesday afternoon’s meeting, a delegation with the Grand Theatre noted that a commitment now would bolster its position in applying for $4 million in federal funding toward the project.

The tourism infrastructure reserve fund was approved last year, and began generating revenue in October through a four per cent charge on all hotel and motel stays in the city.

In a report, staff say the fund’s balance “is approximately $411,000” as of the end of 2018. However, staff add that funding can also be pulled from the economic development reserve fund and the community investment reserve fund should the request be approved.

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Councillor Jesse Helmer noted that where the funding comes from doesn’t really matter to the theatre.

“What I’d like to suggest we do is that we approve the request and that we say the first source of financing can be the tourism infrastructure reserve funding, the second source of financing can be the economic development reserve fund and we will direct our staff to finalize our sources next year when we know more,” he said.

“We can indicate now that we support the idea and that there will be $2 million from one or both of those sources of funding.”

The motion was unanimously approved and goes to full council for a final decision.

As for covering the rest of the multi-million dollar renovation, the remaining $2 million is expected to come through private donations.

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