With the curtain call looming for Dolphin Cinemas on Hastings Street, one group of churchgoers will need to find a new place to congregate.
For the last seven weeks, Calvary Chapel Burnaby has rented out the theatre every Sunday morning for service. Earl Buchan, the group’s pastor, says he’s not looking forward to the day they can no longer pray in the Dolphin.
After 50 years of screening films, the Dolphin is slated for redevelopment but will continue to operate until the rezoning application to allow a four-storey, mixed-used development receives third reading and final adoption from Burnaby council.
“I love the location,” said Buchan. “The Dolphin, it is what it is. If you’re looking for the Cineplex experience, you’re not going to get it here. It’s been faithful to the community with its $2 Tuesdays and the families in the area still line up … and still want to go to it.”
In August, Buchan was in need of a new place to collect with his followers on Sunday mornings, as the space they previously rented out in Vancouver was undergoing renovation.
“We were at Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House and we were there for about three-and-a-half years and as we were growing, … we found out that 80 per cent of the folks were coming from Burnaby.”
Buchan and his family also live in North Burnaby, and the Evangelical Calvary Chapel in the city is part of 3,600 other chapters worldwide. About a dozen are in Canada.
“It’s been really great,” Buchan said of using the Dolphin on Sundays. “It’s a big space, with comfortable chairs.”
When Frog Hollow was no longer a space they could use, Buchan said his wife came up with a plan to contact the Dolphin because its parent company has rented out to a church in one of its other locations.
Rahim Manji, one of the owners at Hollywood Cinemas 3, which also owns a theatre in Pitt Meadows and Surrey, was contacted by Buchan – his group was accommodated immediately.
“He’s really bent over backwards for us, but has also told us that the location will be shutting down in maybe a year and a half. We don’t quite know what their plans are,” Buchan added.
In a previous interview with the Burnaby NOW, Manji said it wasn’t easy being the last independent theatre to shut down in the city.
Manji said the Dolphin has not been doing well and the relationship he has with the landlords is the only reason why he could keep the theatre afloat.
He said he supported the proposed rezoning as the theatre was no longer economically viable in that spot.
Although he could not give a date when he expects the theatre to shut down, he did say he’s looking for a new location in Burnaby.
The purpose of the rezoning application at the site is to permit construction of a four-storey building, which will feature retail units on the bottom floor, 11 accessible rental units on the second floor run by the Vancouver Resources Society, and 20 units of market housing on the top floors. It received second reading at council’s June 10 meeting.
When the Dolphin closes, it will leave SilverCity at Metropolis at Metrotown as the sole movie theatre in Burnaby.
The last theatre to close its doors in Burnaby was Station Square Cinemas last September, after 24 years in the city. Although the group is taking the impending change in stride, Buchan said he and his group are enjoying the time they have now.
“Personally, I’ll miss the Dolphin. I wish it would stay,” he added. “I’ve taken the kids there to see many, many movies.”
© Copyright 2013