The City of Saskatoon continues to look at granting a Saskatoon staple municipal heritage property designation, however the owner says they aren’t interested.
Magic Lantern President Tom Hutchinson said when the group bought the Roxy Theatre 20 years ago, they decided against the designation “because it didn’t offer any advantage to keeping the Roxy as part of Saskatoon’s social fabric.”
Hutchinson told Global News the designation “would put controls in place without any corresponding benefit.”
“The Roxy is a working building, it’s not a museum. As such, it has to change with the times – and we don’t need levels of bureaucracy helping us make decisions on that,” Hutchinson added.
Hutchinson said Magic Lantern has kept the Roxy in “great shape” since they bought it and hope to continue to do so in the future.
City administration said Monday they had contacted the Roxy ownership and while the owner showed interest in preserving the site, they did have reluctance when it came to financial support for long-term preservation and financial stability of designated heritage properties.
“While I’m interested in preserving the Roxy and keeping it a part of Saskatoon’s social heritage, I don’t see that the city can help us with that,” Hutchinson said he told the city when they reached out.
Saskatoon Heritage Society president Peggy Sarjeant told members of the City of Saskatoon planning committee on Monday that the Roxy is only one in five atmospheric cinemas left in the country.
“Designation protects properties from demolition and from unauthorized changes to those critical elements which contribute to the heritage value of the building,” Sarjeant added.
Sarjeant also said that heritage designation can be misunderstood.
She said designation does not restrict use of the building, require the building to be restored to its original purpose, or impede the sale of the building.
Sarjeant urged the city to reach out to the heritage branch and continue conversations with Magic Lantern.
Hutchinson said older buildings need to be handled a particular way.
“If we need serious roof work, it needs to be done now. No discussions, no studies. It needs to be done now. Unfortunately, the city not only doesn’t offer serious money, they just simply complicate with bureaucracy.”
City administration will continue to engage with Magic Lantern if the theatre company decides that municipal heritage property designation would be a benefit for the Roxy.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.