A beloved Port Alberni entertainment venue may be on the path to revival after many years of consistent financial decline.
On the brink of a possible closure from lack of profit, Char’s Landing has received much-needed support from the community through a GoFundMe campaign opened on April 23. So far donations have reached above $8,000, more than owner Charlene Patterson had expected.
“I was hopeless,” Patterson said, thus reaching out to crowdfunding to help keep her business alive. “Im optimistic now for the future, I’m still completely broke, I’m still way over my head, financially, but I feel the positive energy again and this place is about positivity.”
Opening Char’s Landing in 2010 with a dream to bring live music and entertainment to Port Alberni, Patterson renovated a 100 year-old church on Argyle Street where folks can enjoy performances from Canadian and international musicians. She did not expect to be thousands of dollars in debt only six years after opening.
“I came here with $750,000 and now I’m $400,000 in debt, what was I thinking?” She said. “In six years I’ve not shown any profit. I’ve shown a loss every year and that’s not depreciation that’s just out of my bank account every year.”
Hoping for some financial relief Patterson has filed an application with the city to rezone her property from commercial to residential with accessories, a zone that the city would create specifically for Char’s Landing. The rezone would lower the amount of interest Patterson is struggling to pay each month and allow her to apply for a personal line of credit.
The cost of the rezone application is $1,200 which was initially what Patterson was hoping to raise through donations from her GoFundMe page. She reached her goal in under 24 hours.
“Char is asking for a unique zoning change,” said Scott Smith, city planner. “She’s asking for residential but also to allow some accessory commercial uses, so that’s what the city is being asked to consider.”
Smith said this type of zone has been used in Port Alberni before.
“It’s a commercial zone called office transition, it’s our C-5 zone, and it allows a single family residential but it also allows certain commercial uses,” Smith said. “Chars is going to be a bit different.”
A public hearing is required for the rezoning, Smith said, and city council will be the final decision makers.
After years of tweaking her business method, staff layoffs and bewilderment, Patterson hopes to keep the music alive and continue living and working in her home that she opens 365 days a year.
With the donated funds Patterson has bought new bunk beds for her guest house and is working on getting a kid-friendly amendment to the venue’s liquor license.
Patterson gives huge thanks to the community for all their support in “keeping the magic alive” at Char’s Landing.