Vancouver city council
hears from Hollywood Theatre supporters as heritage plan approved
by Yolande Cole on Dec 5,
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,”
“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.