The city is getting a new theatre, but the project’s announcement hasn’t entirely been welcomed around town.
North Battleford city council has received complaints claiming it’s driving Capitol Theatre out of town by signing a new agreement with Magic Lantern Theatres.
“Last week there were some pretty libelous claims being made about the mayor and council. Those posts have since been removed and we just want to clear the air,” Coun. Ryan Bater said.
According to Mayor Ian Hamilton, the city had been trying to offer the project to Capitol Theatre for years.
“The opportunity and the land was made available to them,” Hamilton said. “This was not something that was done in an underhanded manner. We have been trying to offer them the land for the last two years. We made it aware to them that someone was interested in taking advantage of this opportunity.”
According to council, Magic Lantern offered to buy out Capitol Theatre. The plan was to renovate the current theatre as single screen cinema. A second building would be created in the vacant lot across the street and the pair would be used to screen movies.
Capitol Theatre turned down the offer. The company denied comment to battlefordsNOW but did post to social media.
“Why were the owners of the Capitol never approached or asked by the city, ‘what are your plans for the Capitol and another theatre?’ They would have been told ‘yes, we are going to build,’ but they were never asked! Their plans for the future, were to remove the wall separating the Capitol, and make it one cinema again,” read a post on Capitol Theatre’s Facebook.
The city sold the land to Magic Lantern for one dollar and agreed the theatre will be required to pay taxes on only the land in its first five years. Taxes will be owed on both land and improvements afterwards.
The city also agreed to provide 250 lighted public parking spots within one city block of the theatre, located in the empty lot at the corner of 100th St. and 11th Ave. The space has been vacant for 25 years.
Greg Higgins is battlefordsNOW's city municipal affairs and health reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him @realgreghiggins.
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