Saanich council is hesitant to commit to support for Victoria’s McPherson Theatre. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Saanich council is hesitant to commit to support for Victoria’s McPherson Theatre. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

McPherson theatre board members tip toe around F-word

Saanich council has mixed reactions regarding McPherson ‘funding’ conversation

Victoria Coun. Marianne Alto was treated to a mixed welcome from Saanich council on Monday when she brought a proposal for a conversation on behalf of the Royal and McPherson Theatre Society.

Alto is part of a working group with members of the RMTS board that are visiting regional councils to “contemplate opportunities for municipal support for the McPherson beyond the status quo.”

Saanich Coun. Leif Wergeland said while he appreciated the approach, thanks but no thanks.

“I heard the word ‘conversation’ a lot, but not once did I hear the word ‘funding,’ and I think you could have been a little more up front,” Wergeland said. “I applaud you for asking, you never know until you do.”

Coun. Colin Plant, who chairs the CRD Arts Committee, said it’s worrying if Saanich council is unwilling to move forward with a conversation.

“There was no ask for money tonight so let’s be clear,” Plant said in support.

Mayor Richard Atwell and Coun. Fred Haynes said they would like to see the conversation continue. Couns. Judy Brownoff and Susan Brice expressed concern that the conversation will likely end up in Saanich contributing significant funding.

“I have concerns because I still have a dream that this municipality, Saanich, will have its own facility one day and that this could come between that,” Brice said.

In 2016 Victoria gave the McPherson Theatre to the CRD as it was the only municipality to provide funding to the theatre. Victoria contributed $750,000 of taxpayers’ dollars, while Saanich residents provided the highest amount of ticket sales, followed by Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Langford and View Royal.

reporter@saanichnews.com