York Theatre gets green light to put West Coast Reduction’s name on sign
The stage at the York Theatre will be named after West Coast Reduction Ltd., after city council gave the go-ahead Tuesday to include the company’s name on a sign outside the building in recognition of a $2-million donation.
Council voted to amend the sign bylaw to allow the move after a public hearing that drew both supporters and opponents of the sponsorship deal with the East Vancouver rendering plant.
“The Cultch and the York Theatre need this money, and they need it now,” Heather Redfern, the executive director of the Cultch, told councillors.
“This is a relationship that we have made and had with West Coast Reduction for the past 20 years, and it’s one that has been fruitful I think for the Cultch, and has been very important in terms of ensuring that they have a place with us to participate in the community in which their staff live and work, in which their business is located.”
Resident Blair Redlin spoke out against both the rendering plant’s name on the York Theatre sign and corporate signage in general on city-owned facilities.
“When the weather is warmest and we most want to go outside, the odour pollution is at the most egregious, to the point where we either have to retreat indoors and close the doors, or leave the community altogether,” he said.
According to city staff, an independent survey conducted by the Mustel Group found that 66 percent of 524 people surveyed city-wide supported including the name “West Coast Reduction Stage” on the exterior signs of the building, while 61 percent of 319 surveyed in Grandview-Woodland supported the idea.
Fewer people in the neighbourhood supported the idea of a city-owned facility displaying the name of a corporate sponsor on an exterior sign, with 49 percent of Grandview-Woodland residents in support and 37 percent opposed.
The sign bylaw amendments were approved with an addition from Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs stipulating that no further applications to recognize corporate sponsorship on city-owned buildings be recognized before staff have finalized a review of the current sign bylaw.
“We have unique circumstances and we don’t have clear and robust policy around sign bylaw, and there is a historic sensitivity in Vancouver around corporate signage on our buildings, and particularly on public space and public buildings,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said while speaking in support of the motion.
“We’re in a position now where we don’t have much but we face pressure…to loosen up and enable some of that sponsorship to take place in order to support really, really important arts and culture institutions.”
Meggs’ addition to the main motion was opposed by NPA councillors George Affleck and Elizabeth Ball, who were concerned the restriction could impact other arts organizations that are seeking funding.
“I have a great deal of problems limiting the possibility of an arts organization coming forward in the next year or two years, and I know there are a lot of them out there, including the Hollywood Theatre, who are trying desperately to get funding, and I’m quite sure that this would be the death knell for those organizations,” said Ball.
Robertson said the city has seen two proposals of this kind in about five years.
“I don’t agree that we’re faced with a wall of requests [from] arts and cultural organizations that are in dire need of corporate sponsorship…so I think it’s more important that we do get our policy right,” he stated.
“I think that the signal here is that we don’t want to open the door to anyone and everyone that wants to do corporate sponsorship at this point until we have the sign bylaw clear.”
The $2-million donation from West Coast Reduction marks the largest corporate contribution in the history of the Cultch, which operates the recently reopened York Theatre. The sign outside the city-owned facility on Commercial Drive will recognize the “West Coast Reduction Stage”.
The York Theatre name will be displayed five times larger on the exterior sign than the stage title. Other requirements include specifications that illuminated signs be turned off between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.