ANALYSIS: Bank of Montreal building provides a template for community growth
The old Bank of Montreal building plays a lot of roles in this town. The main floor houses the Art Gallery, which doubles as a community event venue; downstairs acts as an art studio; upstairs houses the Chamber of Commerce, the business centre hub, and other offices. Then there are the local businesses like the Red Pair shoe store and Mountain Town Properties. All of these different roles combine to form a sort of symphony, conducted by the building’s owner and manager Fletcher Quince. His experience can serve as a microcosm for the potential of this community.
Quince and his parents took over ownership of the building in 2009. Now Quince manages the 10,000 sq foot space. His vision is to use the building to reflect the values he’d like to see in the community and help facilitate growth in that direction.
“The building is taking form as a community hub,” said Quince. “The Art Gallery provides a public commons: people can come interact and mingle and also provides a forum for music venues and things like that. On the third floor, it provides a venue for helping new businesses start in the community.
“Basically I try to find a middle ground as to what I can manage and they can manage, and help them try to get off the ground. This building provides the template for what you’d see over at the old Mountain Haus furniture store, which is moving away from the ‘monolithic’ business structure, into small, independently-owned businesses, and that`s really good to see in a place like Rossland. It’s about business promotion, and it’s about providing a venue for people to try out business ideas and concepts, and I’d like to see that happen everywhere in Rossland.”
Along with trying to help fledgling businesses get off the ground. Quince wants to promote the social aspect of the space, making it a place where people can come discuss and share ideas, like the idea of a ‘watercooler’. That is part of the idea behind the business hub. Having offices and businesses in close proximity provides more of an inclusive environment, as opposed to having a separation between business and social lives. There is much more opportunity for meaningful conversations and connections, regardless of the context, if there is a space provided to help facilitate that.
The ‘Pantlers and Pelts’ art show currently running at the gallery is a perfect example of how a space or a venue can bring people together and create an experience and social dialogue. The opening was filled with people of all different ages, backgrounds, and socio-economic situations, mixing and mingling. Without the venue and a bit of hard work by Quince and organizer Tyler Bradley, this type of event doesn’t happen.
It is something I’ve noticed throughout my short time living here, that people are willing to go out-of-pocket, and provide their spare time, in order to produce something for the whole community to enjoy. It is these types of people and actions, that add to the fabric of the community, and help sculpt the image of Rossland.
Quince is also the Chair of a taskforce that is part of the Sustainability Commission, which is working on developing a ‘hub of learning’.
“The whole idea is to get more educational opportunities, and to capitalize on the human capital that we have in the community already,” said Quince. “One of the concepts we’ve had is the idea of a speaker series, where once a month we get a member of the community to come in and talk about a subject they have an expertise in. The hub of learning is a concept about community and the growth of the community.”
The Bank of Montreal Building can be seen as a hub in itself. A stable centre, with spokes leading out in all directions. One spoke leads to a business hub, another to a social hub, another still, leading toward a hub of learning. That’s a lot of hubs, but the analogy fits. The building, and Quince’s role within it, is serving to provide an environment where progress can take place, toward furthering this community, and continuing to encourage the attitudes that have made it what it is.
“We’re trying to model society,” said Quince. “I’d like to see Rossland as a whole do that. The amount of capacity, expertise, and good will that takes place in this community, as a whole at all levels, is incredible. The exportation of the value structure around here would be nice to see in the rest of the world.”
Arlen MacLaine is lead reporter for the Rossland Telegraph.