Red Gate arts centre remains open for now
The Red Gate arts centre at 152–156 West Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside has secured a 60-day extension on an order to vacate from the City of Vancouver Building Inspections Branch, giving the centre until the end of August to address a number of safety and building-code issues.
Even so, Jim Carrico, one of the centre’s organizers, said the future of the arts space is less than assured. “This 60-day extension that we’ve negotiated is based on getting the fire-code stuff done, which we’re most of the way there for that stuff, and then by the end of the summer we’re supposed to be submitting plans, like blueprints and things like that, and a whole proposal for what’s supposed to happen to the building,” he said.
According to Carrico, the city’s cultural-services department has encouraged the centre to apply for cultural infrastructure grants to complete all the renovations required, but until it has a formal agreement with the building’s owner, Moshe Mastai, for long-term occupancy, those grants are out of reach. Mastai, who did not respond to requests for an interview, has so far refused to negotiate a lease, according to Carrico.
“The grant money for the city is dependent on not giving a bunch of money to an owner to fix up a building for use that they want to encourage, and then having him turn around and just selling the building,” said Carrico. “The main issue right now is getting the owner to commit. His problem is, ”˜Well, where’s all this money going to come from for this $2-million renovation?’ What I’m trying to say to him is, ”˜Look, we don’t know how much it’s going to cost, because we don’t know what the conditions are, and as it is right now, as far as I understand it, we’re okay with the current occupancy use of studio, as long as we don’t have public assembly.’”
Will Johnston, the city’s director of licences and inspections, explained that there is a will to help the centre remain open. “Our inspectors, as well as the city’s cultural-services group and the Downtown Eastside planning group, have been working with the owner and artists in order to enable this facility so that it could continue in a safe manner. They’ve been trying to do that, and unfortunately we haven’t been successful at convincing the owner to carry out those repairs.”