Vancouver city council hears from Hollywood Theatre supporters as heritage plan approved

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Supporters of the Hollywood Theatre were among the dozens of heritage advocates and community members signed up to address city council Wednesday (December 4) on an action plan proposed by Vancouver staff.

Council unanimously approved the recommendations to update the city’s Heritage Conservation Program, including “quick start actions”, such as updates to the Heritage Register.

Vision Vancouver councillor Heather Deal added an amendment calling for increased flexibility for the director of planning to consider additional measures in the case of the Hollywood Theatre building.

“This is not the Hollywood Theatre report, but we know that we did accelerate this report coming forward based on those concerns, and we’ve heard a great deal about it,” said Deal.

“What this does is it gives that flexibility to the director of planning to look at other measures beyond conditional zoning for buildings which are of particular community or cultural significance, including and specific to the Hollywood.”

Mel Lehan, a member of the Save the Hollywood Theatre coalition, told council that letters of support for the venue have been “pouring in” from arts, cultural and community organizations.

“I have never in any of my previous community activities encountered such a strong feeling of support as I have for our goal of saving the Hollywood Theatre for its heritage value, its historic value, and its community and cultural gathering space value,” he said.

The coalition has collected more than 6,000 signatures in support of a petition to save the Kitsilano landmark, which the owner has applied to redevelop into a fitness centre.

“In the last two years, I’ve seen too many cultural spaces and heritage buildings destroyed in this city in favour of soulless condos and commercial buildings,” filmmaker Michèle Smolkin, who launched the petition, told council.

“Building condos without preserving heritage buildings, without protecting spaces for entertainment, arts and culture and community gatherings is a bad recipe if we want a vibrant, fun and interesting city.”

Mayor Gregor Robertson acknowledged that loss of heritage has been “a huge concern for many in our city in recent years”.

“Vancouver has lost a lot of its heritage and history over recent decades, as the city builds out and densifies and develops, and I know it is a challenge that many, many cities face, particularly in North America,” he said.

He added that there’s “a fine line to walk” in many circumstances between protecting heritage and balancing private property rights.

“I think we’re seeing that in particular with the Hollywood Theatre,” he said.

The Heritage Action Plan recommended by staff was in response to a motion approved by city council earlier this year requesting information on existing heritage retention programs, the role of the city in retaining or protecting privately-owned heritage buildings, and potential improvements to the programs.

Comments (3) Add New Comment
Matt Guy
I think it can be saved with hertitage laws and a good buisiness plan . The owner wants to convert it to fitness centre becuase that would bring more cash flow. But with enough public support and managment it could be revitalized in a similar way the Rio was a few years ago . The Hollywood could still be profitbale showing older movies and live shows if it was managed right and then the owner would still make money too not wanting to turn it into a fitness club. Could even rename it the Red Robison theatre since his name was dropped from the new Hard Rock casino vancouver has lost too much of its heritage already and this is a chance to save some .
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G
The Hollywood will be saved if the developer is a regular donor to Vision, as was the case with the Waldorf. The heritage bonus is a nice windfall for developers and is rarely given to those who haven't paid for a table at a few Vision fundraising events.
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Anton Kuipers
It is time that we stop the re-development of the Hollywood Theatre. How many more fitness studios do we need. Within four blocks we have already 4 studios and then we have our local community centres. Common Robertson show some real leadership and preserve our heritage. Stop the developer friendly planning department and vote no to redevelop our theatre into a fitness place. You got your bike lanes, let us have our community theatre. Developments without local community amenities is no way to have a vibrant city. So far the City is becoming a very boring place under your Vision leadership. Did I say vision, Mr. Mayor so far you have not presented a vision. Sorry. Do the right thing and safe our community theatre.
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