Petrolia to look at “reimagined” Victoria Hall

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It has been 25 years since Victoria Hall reopened and now, town council says it may be time to look at renovations and expansion.
Director of Cultural Services Richard Poore received permission from council to apply for a federal grant to hire a consultant to look at Victoria Hall.
“Back in 2010, the VPP’s business plan showed a need for a new rehearsal hall,” he says. At the time, the idea was to take down the rehearsal hall, which was an open air market in the 1900s, and put up an addition which would include a freight elevator to make it easier to change sets during the theatre season.
But Poore says the idea always depended on whether grant money was available for the project.
Now the federal government has a Cultural Spaces Fund which Poore hopes will provide about half of a $50,000 bill for a consultant to consider what could be done to improve Victoria Hall. Town council has committed to paying for up to $25,000 for its share of the study.
Included in the possibilities of what Poore calls a “reimagined space” would be creating a permanent gallery, expanded washrooms for both theatre patrons and staff, a freight elevator, a new rehearsal space and better accessibility which could include another elevator for patrons to the theatre and those accessing the municipal office.
Currently, if someone needs an accessible entrance to town hall, they have to enter the building using the ramp on Greenfield Street and then take the elevator down to the basement.
“The study will see if all of that is feasible and what the cost might be,” says Poore. “Can we do it, does it make financial sense and is it sustainable.”
Poore admits the cost for a “reimagined space” could stretch into the millions.
“The same fund that we’re applying to for the grant could fund part of that project,” he says. “Will it happen, we don’t know. Let’s see if we can get the money for the study first.”

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