Funding earmarked to rebuild auditorium in Oliver

In September, a fire ravaged through the South Okanagan Secondary School and destroyed the auditorium

The regional district board unanimously authorized a bylaw amendment to ensure money will go towards rebuilding the Venables Auditorium in Oliver.

In September, a fire ravaged through the South Okanagan Secondary School and destroyed the auditorium — a beloved landmark in the community. Both were undergoing extensive renovations and were close to completion at the time of the fire. In 2009, the RDOS board adopted a bylaw for one-time capital funding of $3.8 million to School District 53 for the purpose of capital upgrades for the auditorium. Since they are no longer considered capital upgrades, and instead classified as a complete rebuild, the bylaw had to be changed.

The school district was hoping that the unexpended portion of the capital upgrades money, $2.3 million, could be used for the purpose of assisting them in constructing a new auditorium. The bylaw had to be amended to take out the term capital upgrades.

“The school district actually does not fund auditoriums anymore so they were not going to unless we put this amendment forward. That auditorium would not have been included in the reconstruction,” said rural Oliver director Allan Patton.

Patton reminded the board that a referendum held had a very large majority in favour of giving the money for the auditorium capital upgrades originally, which should make the board comfortable in making the decision.

“If you see the plans, their design is for close to a 400-seat, state-of-the-art theatre that is just going to be gorgeous. Our South Okanagan has grown up with that theatre and it would be a shame not to have this opportunity,” said Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes.