MH defers Beaver Theatre request until new year
By Chad Ingram
Published Dec. 15, 2016
Minden Hills councillors will be deferring a decision on a request from the new owner of the former Beaver Theatre until the new year.
During a Dec. 8 meeting, council discussed a request from the building’s owner to reduce the number of parking spots required for the theatre and for the township to enter into a parking agreement.
“This is the cart so far ahead of the horse,” said Reeve Brent Devolin. “There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before I think we’d consider this on any level.”
Oshawa-based Rahim Lakhani purchased the theatre in September and has plans to rehabilitate it as a multi-use space that would function under a not-for-profit structure. “Rahim proposed that the not-for-profit theatre would be a tenant of the theatre landlord,” minutes from a meeting Lakhani held with local stakeholders read. “The township could be an anchor tenant in addition to the theatre.”
Devolin said the discussion was about a hypothetical relationship between three entities – the township, the theatre owner and a not-for-profit society – the latter of which does not even exist at this point in time.
“We’re talking about a developer building for a third party that doesn’t exist,” he said.
Lakhani is seeking to change the number of parking spots the theatre would require from 30 to zero, in order to accommodate a 143-square metre addition to the theatre.
Such an addition would exceed the maximum lot coverage limit of 80 per cent, leaving nearly 95 per cent of the property covered by an expanded theatre.
While the Minden Hills committee of adjustment is supportive of the lot coverage increase, its recommendation is that the owner still be responsible for 10 parking spaces.
A report from township planner Ian Clendening said the township could enter into an agreement whereby the owner could make payments to the township in lieu of providing parking spaces.
“The township does not have an established policy governing these situations and it is difficult to determine the cost of providing parking,” Clendening’s report read. “There is no obligation that the township construct parking spaces on behalf of the applicant, however the money collected must be spent on such purposes. In the most recent transaction of a similar nature, a developer was charged $500 per stall, however this amount may be quite low.”
Minden Hills sold some parking spots from the municipal parking lot to Greystone Construction for its Newcastle Street condo, so that residents could access the building’s parking garage from Pritchard Lane.
Councillor Pam Sayne thought the township needed to exercise more co-operation on a project that would potentially revitalize the theatre, which has sat vacant and boarded up along Water Street for years.
“We have a building that is an eyesore in this community,” Sayne said. “We have a developer that wants to do something new.”
“That we’re doing this with no drawings, no specificity, I think is irresponsible,” Devolin responded. “We have a bit of talk, and that’s all we have.”
The reeve said he’d twice asked Lakhani to provide drawings to the township.
“Now it’s before council, not any of us as individuals,” Sayne said.
Deputy-reeve Cheryl Murdoch said she didn’t think there was anyone around the council table who wouldn’t like to see the theatre used again, but that Devolin was right.
“Basically, our reeve has asked the developer, twice, for some kind of plan and we’ve seen nothing,” Murdoch said.
Councillors deferred to the request to a later meeting.