Between the Motions: AMS Council discusses reopening of Nest, Norm Theatre expansion at June 23 meeting

AMS Council met for nearly six hours last night to discuss its restart plan as BC eases COVID restrictions and the proposed AMS auditorium project.

Here’s what you might have missed.

AMS to begin significantly reopening as soon as July 1

President Cole Evans said that based on conversations with UBC, the provincial government and public health, most changes to AMS operations will take place in phase three of the plan — which may start July 1 at the earliest, according to BC’s Restart Plan.

Masks and social distancing requirements in the Nest will remain in place through phase three, but will eventually become optional starting in phase four — subject to reinstatement if needed.

In terms of food and beverage services, Evans expects restaurants to begin increasing capacity during phase three before fully reopening during phase four. The Pit will not reopen until October, however. AMS Services will follow a similar reopening timeline to restaurants.

Councillor Matthew Ho asked why services would not fully return to in-person operations in phase three given students’ reliance on these programs.

Evans said that certain services that require in-person interactions like SafeWalk and the AMS Food Bank have already partially returned to normal and will be prioritized when determining which programs to fully reopen first.

Additionally, the AMS is currently planning for in-person AMS Firstweek events and a modified Welcome Back BBQ.

“It would not be your typical Welcome Back BBQ where we'd have the stage and packing people into an audience. Think more festival, kind of [a] more spaced out vibe,” he said.

The AMS would resume other in-person events starting in October.

Preliminary plans for the AMS Auditorium

Evans presented plans to revamp the Norm Theatre — a plan that would in total cost over $3.2 million, but ideally, the society would only have to contribute between $300,000 and $600,000 toward it.

The plan is to create a “multipurpose theatre for the performing arts and beyond.” Evans presented it as a space to screen movies, host live theatre and potentially host lectures on off-peak hours.

A feasibility study recommended the society go ahead with the project, so next steps include applying for a government grant of $1.7 million. Evans said that the university had verbally committed just under $1 million to the project.

The motion at hand meant that the AMS would approve the project in principle, “express interest in the completion of the project pending the successful receipt of required additional funding” and ensure that the Executive Committee provided a report on the grant application by March 2022.

Get Thrifty has expressed frustration with this project’s delays as a space that the AMS hopes to use for this project is also the space Get Thrifty wants to use for its expansion. Board of Governors student representative Max Holmes encouraged Evans to present a timeline on the Get Thrifty project to Council in the future.

The motion passed.