Arts theatre does not belong at the high school


  |  Posted: Tuesday, Apr 08, 2014 04:38 pm

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Dear Editor,

The article regarding the question of should the Town partner with the Foothills School Division to build a theatre at the Foothills Composite High School, provided a good summary of what has taken place thus far and what is pending. However, there are a couple of questions that didn’t get mentioned.

First, should a $20 million theatre be used as a classroom in a high school or is a much lower cost rehearsal hall more appropriate as a teaching space?

Second, should municipal taxes and funds be used to build a facility which when completed will be owned by the Foothills School Division?

Third, the school division has offered the site to build the theatre plus up to $500,000. Does that sound like a good partnership deal for all Okotoks taxpayers?

The article stated that the school would only require use of the facility for about five weeks outside school hours. It did not mention the school would use the facility every school day plus the mentioned evenings and weekends.

If this were 30 years ago when the school was being built, the arts program was just starting and our population was less than 6,000 with a low growth expectation, a theatre at the high school would make a lot more sense. However, this is now, with Okotoks population approaching 30,000 and expectation of growing to 50,000 or more in 20 years. Also, our economic trade area is currently about 70,000 people and if south Calgary is included it is about 250,000.

What we are saying is, now is the time to look forward, at the undeveloped land within the current Town boundary and the land to be annexed, to find a potential location for a Cultural Campus. We have a rare opportunity to select a location and to build community facilities which we can all use and be proud of and will serve Okotoks and area for many decades to come.

If we build a theatre at the high school at this point in the Town’s growth, it will be an interim step only. We will then build many new schools, parks and recreation facilities before we again build any new cultural facilities.

Council has not held any public consultations on new cultural facilities or this partnership issue, perhaps now is the time for citizens to provide their input directly to members of council.

Russ Wheatley



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