Tuesday March 13, 2012

Opinion

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Paramount group bangs esoteric drums

Craig Hill/Voice photos

 

About 75 people met at the "old" Arts Centre on Henderson to formulate a plan to save the Paramount Theatre on Monday.

 

 

hey had their turn, now it's my turn.

 

The Paramount has been holding back the years, now it's trying to hold back the wrecker's ball with the help of about 75 people who converged on the old Arts Centre on Henderson Monday night for some good old fashioned brainstorming.

 

A few folks seemed like they had a working knowledge of buildings and business, but the majority of CEPCO-haters just seemed to be bored activists looking for a cause.

They say they are doing this for all the residents of Chilliwack, but everyone seemed to have their own reason for saving the Paramount. Most of those ideas involve taking your money and putting it into their pockets, making it all so esoteric.

The same ones there who complained about the councillors and mayor, are the ones you never see at City Hall meetings voicing their concerns. Mind you, the group did make a presentation in chambers last week but were invisible up to that point, even when the call went out for project ideas last year.

Three well-known local musicians were there last night, with an interest in saving the building—for obvious reasons.

The group thinks they won't have a problem generating the kinds of money needed to restore the building to her former glory. But having said that, they are already after business and individuals for monetary support, even before they have a solid business plan in place.

Never was there any mention of forming a not-for-profit group.

They want to save it, yet there were no ideas put forward about what to do with the decrepit building, just ways to whittle away at people's wallets and generate funds via seat sponsorships. They will also be asking business to step forward and supply services for their building.

The project won't likely create many jobs. Certainly not nearly as many as if the site was redeveloped for shops and other businesses. The building won't be used for anything other than shows, either live or digitized. According to one of the organizers, Candace Brown, digitizing the theatre will cost somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000. But the numbers didn't faze them. There's no stage either. So we're talking major refit here.

It's true that the Chilliwack Arts and Cultural Centre has priced itself out of the market for local bands who want to play there, but there was no discussion about that during the meeting.

Nor was there any discussion by these activists looking for a cause, about the building they were sitting in. If local artists want a venue, the Arts Centre, which may actually close shop, can be the place. The Centre is currently having trouble booking shows and they have been at odds with the City about it. But the activists didn't seem to care much about that.

One would think that if the group was going to throw their support behind anything, it would be the beloved Arts Centre. But not this group. They're hell bent for leather on pouring other people's money into a hole in the ground.

I don't have much of an affinity for old buildings, even after having lived on Water St. in Gastown for a number of years.

The disgust for Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) Monday was palpable throughout the meeting. Aside from the moaning about City councillors and the mayor, the common thread seemed to be a universal loathing for CEPCO, and when the question about why demolition of the building has been rushed came up, and no one had the answer, this reporter tried to explain what "we" have been told the reason for demolishing the derelict building is, and was jumped on by the militaristic element.

Being a nostalgic is nice, but not very realistic. People have complained for years about how precious Five Corners is but you don't see businesses lining up to set-up shop there. One has to wonder about that.

Obviously the City made a mistake accepting the building as a gift due to the huge costs related to a roof repair job, a bad boiler and various other health and safety concerns.

The boiler is going to have to be cut apart with torches and taken out in pieces, and more than likely the building will also have to be seismically upgraded.

Does Chilliwack need another show venue that will likely end up being a white elephant after the upgrades are done and the novelty has worn off, and people have moved on in their lives? At that point the City will have to deal with it again, and the money that's been poured into the one-dimensional building will be wasted when it's eventually turned into rubble.

Frankly, I'd rather see them turn their energy on something that affects more people, like the anti-smart meter delegation meeting at the FVRD Tuesday at 1 pm, or the March Against Racism to Commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Sunday March 18th at 2 pm at the park on Commercial Drive and 14th in Vancouver. Something that means far more to people than saving the Paramount Theatre.

I've been coming to Chilliwack since before I was born. Sure I've seen a few shows there, but I have no emotional attachment to the past and prefer to look forward to the future—my future that this group of activists want to hold back.

 

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