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. 

Comments (9) Add New Comment
Fantastic news!!!
Rating: -15
Michael Puttonen
This sign by-law variance and other variances awarded the City-owned Cultch, York and planned Jim Green House will set the tone for the redevelopment that will follow, providing a transition to more height and density along Venables and Victoria and a busier, brighter and bigger commercial/residential environment along Commercial.

These expanded cultural facilities will “anchor” and “attract” the developments that will replace Grandview-Woodlands single-family and rental housing stock with strata housing built for a new demographic.

The new neighbourhood will be selling itself as a kind of “Westbrook Village East”, a “creative city” enclave half way between UBC and SFU. The Cultch has integrated itself seamlessly into City development plans. The new Grandview-Woodlands will be served by four theatres (Cultch, VanCity, York, Jim Green) - just as the Arts Club/Bard theatre on W. 1st. will serve the Olympic Village neighbourhood.

The theatre scene has been sorted. The fate of the losers hasn’t been pretty -- VPTC getting its throat slit by its own Board while everyone stood by pretending it was an accident, no, that wasn’t pretty (ditto the smoking ruin of the Pantages) – but on the other hand, the winners have done so well out of all this.

Grandview-Woodlands rounds out a development cycle that began a decade ago with the success of the VANOC bid and the ramping-up of CACs as a development tool. I've been researching the trend, had to stick with the story, but glad its over because for every happy Cultch rising on the vapours of smart politics, there's been a disgraceful VPTC spiralling down a vortex of mendacity.

So, will VAG again be pressured to take the CAC plunge? If so, will VAG be as successful as the Cultch or go the way of VPTC? That depends on the VAG Board.
Rating: -7
Regarding the Hollywood Theatre, Councillor Ball is merely politicking as usual. As far as I know there is no yet agreed upon 're-use' for the Hollywood, therefore it is quite unlikely a corporate benefactor is about to step forward with cash/sponsorship.
Rating: -6
Jesus. A dead animal rendering plant is going on the theatres sign? No thanks York. I won't be back.
Rating: -18
I am always entertained by the locals whining about West Coast Rendering, as though the plant is a new addition to the neighbourhood. I am also entertained by the outrage over the signage, naturally from the same people who think taxpayers should be providing the funds.
Rating: -4
Commercial Drive 25 year resident
That's fine, but please for the love of god move West Coast Reduction poultry/chicken transportation hub building 1717 E Hastings [imgur(DOT)com/BDihjs0], whenever they open the door and the truck with the cages full of live chickens emanates the most foulest of stenches / air pollution that lasts about 10 minutes after the truck has left, while we all inhale chicken urine and feces floating in the air...

Luckily those multi-million dollar condo's are going up soon down the block along the new Hastings Corridor....endless complaints to the city shall ensue!

Especially come summer!
Rating: 0
I am disappointed. This is the beginning of the end. Naming rights are silly and ridiculous. Companies need to give to the arts without any expectation of return. Does every donation need to result in naming rights?

Up next--named tickets, named popcorn, named toiletpaper. You cannot go see art without being barraged by some supposedly altruistic corporation that actually wants to ADVERTISE how apparently generous it is being.

Shame on you CULTCH!
Rating: -12
Hazlit,you say that companies need to give to the arts without any expectation in return?

Wouldn't that be wonderful? Wouldn't it be great if companies were chomping at the bit to give money, with absolutely no return, to arts organizations, over hospitals, the homeless, sick children, or a myriad of other absolutely deserving causes? Wouldn't it be wonderful if all levels of government weren't cutting back their funding every year and asking, no demanding, that arts organizations and non profits find other sources of funding?

Your "altruistic" opinion, (if I may quote you), would mean that you don't have arts to see. Nevermind having to deal with those atrociously named tickets, or popcorn. Unless you wish to insist that artists just perform on the corner for your amusement...or change.

Most companies would be better "PR" served by donating to any of the other amazing causes mentioned above. And most non-profit staff are professionals who understand that that the best way to get further support is to show other people, other companies, that they are worth supporting. And that there are others who see it that way. Perhaps a sign might achieve that effectively?

If I may use a cliche..."If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." So shaming the Cultch for trying to survive is bad form indeed.
Rating: -11
@Baffled and others thumbs downing me:

I'm talking about what should happen, not what DID happen. I concede that Ms. Redfern may have felt that she needed to take the money and was in no position to set conditions upon its receipt.

Did WCR insist upon naming rights? As I remember they trotted out all this brou-ha-ha about how they wanted to be good neighbours etc., etc. If they really wanted to be a good neighbour there's a great way to do that--it's called an anonymous donation.

Want to know WHY government is cutting back its funding for arts year after year? Because people like Ms. Redfern are giving away the store. Corporate donations (when attached to a name) encourage people to believe that corporations instead of their local governments will provide (but not necessarily be responsible for) cultural funding.

The arts are fundamentally good for a society--they are sacred even. We all still need places that we can bow our heads in humility at the wonders that are happening there. For me, at least, some sense of the sacred will be gone at the Reduction Stage; my own sense of wonder will be reduced as will my admiration for The Cultch.

P.S. Before saying I am part of the problem better to know more about me and what I do.
Rating: -1
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