District staff have found a fitting way to spend the funds earned from allowing the filming of Wayward Pines in Agassiz – a mobile stage.
On Tuesday night, a shorthanded council voted in favour of purchasing the stage, for a price of $159,030. Coun. Lorne Fisher and Mayor John Van Laerhoven voted for the purchase, and Coun. Duane Post voted against it. Councillors Darcy Striker and Holger Schwichtenberg were both absent from the meeting.
“This will be a legacy project,” said Kerry Hilts, director of recreation and community services, and could be used at numerous community events in many different locations.
A small number of staff members within public works and the recreation department will be trained in moving, setting up, operating and breaking down the stage. The stage can be set up in 30 minutes and is self contained. It is 24′ by 20′ and can be expanded up to 40′ by 24′. It will include sound, lights, stairs, skirts, windfalls and a generator. The cost included training and support.
Staff researched mobile stage companies, and spoke with staff at other small B.C. communities which have bought them in the past, including Fernie and Mackenzie. Both of those municipalities are happy with their purchase, Hilts said.
“I think it’s a little bit too much money,” said Post. “It’s a great piece of equipment to have but $160,000 is a bit much.”
He asked council to consider a smaller model, for about $110,000. The stage is being bought from a company in Quebec called Stageline. Hilts noted that in their research they found there aren’t many companies offering the same equipment in Canada, and had to look out of province.
The money to purchase the equipment will come directly from money earned through the filming of Wayward Pines on Pioneer Ave. The District received $309,500 and earmarked about $200,000 for the improvement of parks and the downtown area.
In addition to having the stage for their own use, the District will be able to rent out the stage. Similar stages rent for about $4,000 a day, Hilts noted, providing an offshoot revenue for the municipality.
In the same meeting on Monday night, council read a letter from the Agassiz Harrison Historical Society. The museum, which is located downtown on Pioneer Ave., was built in 1893 and is one of the last wooden structure train stations left in Canada. The volunteer organization is requesting some assistance with the upkeep of the building. Council agreed unanimously to consider spending some of the remaining WWP funds on helping with the upgrades.