Push to have Saskatoon’s Roxy Theatre designated a heritage property

A Saskatoon city committee is asking administration to engage with the property owner to see what support is needed to have the heritage designation given to the Roxy Theatre. File / Global News

The Saskatoon Heritage Society is asking the city to designate the Roxy Theatre as a heritage property.

The theatre is one of only five atmoshpheric cinemas left in Canada, says Patty Sargent, president of the society.

Read more: Historic Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon up for sale

She told a city committee on Monday that the theatre is an important part of Saskatoon’s architectural and cultural heritage.

“It also plays a significant economic role by attracting visitors to one of our historic business districts. We would wish to see the building protected, both interior and exterior.”

The theatre is currently up for sale by the owners, Rainbow Cinemas and Magic Lantern Theatres.

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The Roxy was bought by Rainbow Cinemas in 2005, which then restored the building to its 1930s glory. The company is now looking to sell.

A city official said the theatre’s owner previously indicated it did not want the property to be designated a heritage property, but instead allow the future owners to make that decision.

Lesley Anderson said typically the city doesn’t place a heritage tag on a property without the owner’s consent, but it has been done in the past.

“The last one was the Third Avenue United Church, where we went through that process and we did not have the owner’s consent,” said Anderson, the city’s director of planning and development.

“Owner’s consent is one of our key pieces when we go forward with the designation, to have a willing party to pursue that.”

Read more: Saskatoon city council designates Third Avenue United Church heritage property

The committee is asking the city administration to engage with the property owner to see what support is needed to have the heritage designation given to the Roxy Theatre.

“I would like to know that we are making some direct contact and asking the owner what would be required for heritage status to be considered,” said Ward 6 Coun. Cynthia Block.

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Ward 2 Coun. Hilary Gough believes it is important for the city to take a proactive approach to the conversation.

“We need to be hearing from the property owners about what they’re looking for in terms of support and what kind of scale that would be,” she said.

“I know that the owner of the Roxy Theater cares deeply about the property and the significance of that property and has invested a tremendous amount in maintaining that building and bringing it (back) to its former glory.

“I think everybody wants that to continue.”

Mayor Charlie Clark said the ideal scenario is for the building to be sold and continue as a theatre.

“I am a bit concerned that just designating it as a heritage property, itself, doesn’t sort of secure the building, necessarily, if there isn’t somebody who can run it and operate it,” Clark said.

“And I don’t believe we want to be in a situation where the city is trying to operate it.”

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