Vancouver’s Rio Theatre listed for sale, petition launched to save it

Sun. Feb. 4: The future of the iconic Rio Theatre in East Vancouver is under threat and members of the community are weighing in. Jennifer Palma has more on a petition to save the Rio Theatre.

The future of the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver is under threat after the building was put up for sale.

“Everybody seems to be really on the same page where they are just tired of seeing venues lost to development or to the economy,” said Corinne Lea, who runs the theatre.

READ MORE: Rio Theatre launches campaign to light up famous sign

That’s why staff at the Rio have launched a petition to try to save it.

“We need to collect as many signatures as possible to demonstrate the community’s support in saving the existing, historical, art-deco venue that we know and love,” reads part of the petition online.

As of Monday morning, the petition had collected 13,000 signatures. Lea said they are working together with the current business owners and a team of investors to put in an offer to buy the four million dollar building.

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“If we’re not able to buy it, it’s very likely that a developer is going to buy it, and any developer is going to have plans to tear it down,” said Lea.

WATCH: Rio Theatre launches campaign to light up famous sign

The petition says the Rio shouldn’t be in the hands of a developer that doesn’t understand the cultural needs of the community.

“I’m a business person and I deal with things in a professional way, but I’ve got to say, it would be an extremely emotional experience for me to watch the Rio get torn down,” said Lea. “And I can only imagine how the rest of the community would feel.”

Vancouver Film School alumnus and Hollywood director Kevin Smith has come forward offering his support to host a fundraiser with the proceeds going towards Lea’s purchase.

The land has been valued at $4 million.

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