There was a wild round of applause and cheers from the viewing gallery at city hall after Halifax Regional Council voted to help provide funding to the Bus Stop Theatre on Tuesday.
Council voted in favour of a motion put forward by Lindell Smith, councillor for Halifax Peninsula North, to support the theatre as it attempts to purchase the building and property that houses the theatre co-operative on Gottingen Street.
“It’s a big relief and it means we have a real shot at saving the Bus Stop Theatre and protecting its legacy,” said Sébastien Labelle, executive director with Bus Stop Theatre.
The motion was supported almost unanimously by council and will give the theatre $250,000 over two years to help purchase the building. Council will also write a letter of support for the project to help them secure funding from other levels of government.
The Bus Stop Theatre is within in Smith’s district. He told Global News on Tuesday that he has seen a groundswell of support from the theatre community since the funding request to save the theatre came forward to council.
“I’ve had conversations with the province and federal levels of government and the folks that would cover this file,” said Smith.
“They said ‘if you guys get on board first then we’ll be next.’”
The theatre had originally requested $500,000 in funding from the municipality, a decision that was rejected in favour of Smith’s motion.
Labelle says that the level of support from Halifax Regional Council will go a long way.
“I knew it was a tough ask and the timeline was very challenging,” said Labelle.
WATCH: The Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen St. is going up for sale
Council has just wrapped its budgeting process for 2019 and that didn’t allow council to offer any financial support this year, but Labelle said they do have a bit of time before the building becomes available.
The building’s owner is a theatre supporter, Labelle said, and has given them the first right of refusal but has given the theatre group until July 2020 to purchase the building.
“This falls short of what need to make an outright purchase but it’s enough to help us leverage some support and to help make a solid down payment and secure the property before the sale,” said LaBelle.