Boost for $4.5M theatre plan

The show will go on for efforts in Merritt to build a new community theatre, thanks to provincial funding provided under "special circumstances."

The city has been awarded $500,000 to help construct the proposed Nicola Valley Community Theatre and Performing Arts Centre, the province announced on Monday.

Funding comes from the rural dividend program's special circumstances provision, which the province has provided due to the closure of the Tolko Mill late last year.

"The special circumstances provision of the rural dividend was specifically designed to assist communities undergoing economic hardship, such as the loss of a primary employer," Doug Donaldson said, Minister of Forests.

Merritt Mayor Neil Menard said the funding will "greatly assist with the economic diversification and economic recovery of our community, after the loss of one of our major employers."

The city said the theatre project is among efforts to bring more residents and visitors to the downtown core.

The Nicola Valley Theatre Society expects the theatre project to cost about $4.5 million. They began planning about two years ago.

The society has already purchased a vacant property at Coutlee Avenue and Garcia Street, where the 14,000 square-foot building will go. It's not clear when construction could begin.

A grant worth $100,000 was also given to the city by the province in 2016 to help plan the theatre project.

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