A new performance centre, in one of Prince George's oldest buildings
Plus a Chinese name for Prince George, and more job losses in the forest industry
It may not be the on-again-off-again downtown performing arts centre, but Prince George is getting a new dedicated performing space downtown — the Knox Performance Centre.
The opening of the space was announced yesterday by Eli Klasner, executive director of the Community Arts Council and Rev. Bob Fillier of Trinity United Church — because the building is a United Church one, dating back to its building 101 years ago, in 1922.
It stopped being a church at the end of 2017, as I reported at the time:
The closure of Knox United Church comes as the congregation dwindles and ages, a "reflection of the secularization of our society," according to outgoing minister Rev. Michael Hare.
The roots of Knox are traced back to 1910, when Presbyterian and Methodist worshippers began holding services in what is now called Prince George. That history makes it the oldest church in the city.
According to the church's website and other historical documents, the Presbyterians moved to the church's current location at 5th Avenue and Brunswick Street in downtown Prince George in 1922, three years before they joined with Methodists and Congregationalists to form the United Church of Canada. By 1956, a larger church had to be built at the same location due to the number of people attending services, but the 1922 building is still used as a gathering space.
At the time, the future of the church was not known but for the past few years efforts have been underway to convert it to a performance space — effforts that the Community Arts Centre says are now nearly complete.
To celebrate, they have announced the grand opening March 9 with a performance from internationally acclaimed concert pianist Angela Hewitt, along with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and champagne.
The renovations are in the range of $300,000 and include a new sound and lighting system, described as “state of the art,” and with 285 seats for seated performances is about equivelent to Theatre Northwest, which has a capacity of 250 and the Playhouse, which seats 295 (Vanier Hall is 800 and CN Centre is close to 6,000).
There’s still a gap to be filled by a slightly larger venue, I think, but this makes Prince George the latest city to have a church become something more secular, allowing historic public buildings to remain gathering places even as the religious aspect of their function fades into the background.
From the release:
“The CAC has long striven to have a dedicated space for us to present performing arts and live entertainment, in addition to our 55-year history as a leader in activating visual arts spaces in the community,” says Eli Klasner, CAC Executive Director. “Our vision has always been to lead the development of our community into a recognized centre of creativity, and the opening of the Knox Performance Centre is a major milestone in our efforts to help make this a reality."
Mayor Simon Yu has given Prince George a Chinese name: 㵨基 — pronounced "pee jee" in Mandarin, the same as the central B.C. city's initials — which means "foundation of tributaries," according to the classical Kangxi Dictionary.
For the first time, xylazine, a substance used to tranquillize animals, has been detected in Prince George’s illicit drug supply.
More bad news for the forest industry as Canfor announces the permanent shutdown of its operations in Chetwynd, and the closure of its Houston operations in order to retool towards a manufacturing plant which is good news eventually… but not now, as people will be out of work until that happens.
John Brink isn’t impressed by the government setting aside ten percent of B.C. Timber’s annual allowable cut for manufaturers, saying, “that is nothing, that is not even the size of a regular sawmill.”
But the B.C. Pulp and Paper Coalition is ‘ecstatic’ over quick action on fire-damaged fibre plan.
And B.C.’s Minister of Forests is expressing frustration over the preliminary decision by the United States Department of Commerce this week to continue to apply duties to Canadian softwood lumber exports into the U.S.
Coastal GasLink has been fined a 3rd time for non-compliance with environmental orders in its construction projects west of Prince George.
Construction of a $2.5B gold-silver mine 160 km southwest of Prince George expected to begin this summer.
Cameron Stolz argues we should start developing the area north of the Hart as a major industrial site.
Letters to the editor:
Regarding Prince George as a shopping centre, Kat comments:
Prince George is definitely the shopping center of the North. Growing up in Rupert we'd head to PG before school every year to pick up clothes and supplies. Now, living in PG, any trip planning back to Rupert begins with a callout to friends and family: what do you need from Costco?
And in further Hart discourse, Roxanne writes:
In response to your previous newsletter about the walkability of the Hart (and the rest of PG), I think one thing that would make walking safer is if crosswalks didn't use white signs and white paint on the roads given that for almost half of the year there is white snow camouflaging them so that they're basically useless. Something like fluorescent pink or fluorescent yellow would be highly noticable all year long.
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