The Cameo project, which includes an expanded Star Cinema, has been approved unanimously by Sidney’s town council.
At a public hearing on Monday June 18, Sidney’s mayor and council heard comments for and against the project. Supporters said the theatre was an important cultural part of the town, and matinees were good for seniors who no longer drive, and for children’s birthday parties. However, comments against the project centred around parking concerns and the height of the building.
Price said the developer has said without six storeys, the project would not be viable. Given the decision to have a theatre in a six-storey building, or a lower building without the theatre, “for me, tonight, it’s an easy decision to support the project,” said Price.
Coun. Cam McLennan said he also supported the project because Sidney is the designated urban centre of the Saanich Peninsula, and building upward would prevent urban sprawl.
“I’m happy that Casman will make it possible for us to deliver a unique and special cinema that we can all be very proud of,” said Oliver.
She said she appreciated all the people who turned up to support the project. “I’m very relieved and really excited!”
One area of contention was the lack of parking spaces for theatre patrons. In an earlier interview, Oliver said that 20 years ago, she was walked through the process of getting a parking variance because of the positive presence a theatre would have on the town. The current 5,000 sq. ft theatre, which would typically require 29 spots (and a payment of $10,000 in lieu of each spot), thus has none, and no payment was given at the time.
The Cameo proposal, which also asks to reduce parking by 29 spaces, is viewed by Oliver as an extension of the existing situation. In the meeting, Mayor Price said more parking will be built near the Mary Winspear Centre, and the Sidney Town Hall site would eventually need to be redeveloped, so more parking could go there.
Oliver said Star Cinema will move to a temporary location during the roughly two-year construction period, but they will stay in their current location until at least the end of August.