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Owner is still looking for a new spot

It's not easy being the last independent theatre to shut down in the city, and especially difficult to pick up and find new digs in North Burnaby.

It's not easy being the last independent theatre to shut down in the city, and especially difficult to pick up and find new digs in North Burnaby.

That's the sentiment Rahim Manji, one of the owners of Dolphin Cinemas parent company Hollywood Cinemas 3, shared with the Burnaby NOW recently.

He said despite having a great relationship with the landlords, it hasn't been easy to keep the theatre afloat.

Manji said he recognizes that it's the last independent cinema in the area and its closing leaves Burnaby with only one theatre. He also said he does not know the date when the Dolphin will close, but when it does there will be a "grand closing" event.

"We'll do something, I'm sure," he told the NOW.

Manji noted he's been busy every day looking for a new location, but it's been quite difficult to find something.

At the recent public hearing, Manji did not show up in person but emailed in a statement. He said he supports the proposed rezoning, and noted that it is no longer economically viable to operate the theatre - but the group is striving to locate a new spot.

In all, the rezoning application that would seek to demolish the theatre and replace it with a four-storey development had 25 responses from the public.

Of the responses, about 14 were in favour of the proposed new development, which would bring 11 accessible rental units run by the Vancouver Resources Society and 20 market housing units to Hastings Street, with the ground level made of commercial retail space.

Some of the respondents in support of the rezoning application were Isabel Kolic, executive director of the Heights Merchants Association, Ken Fraser, executive director of the Vancouver Resources Society, and Paul Caune, executive director of Civil Rights Now.

Other residents in support of the new development said it will attract residents to the neighbourhood, would create more business opportunity and the 11 accessible rental units would allow those with disabilities "to live in dignity."

But, about eight residents who wrote letters or appeared before council said they wanted to keep the theatre in the area.

The respondents who said they wanted the Dolphin to stick around suggested if the theatre could not stay where it is then it should find a new spot along Hastings Street.

Elizabeth Bowes wrote, in a letter to the city, that Burnaby needs the Dolphin theatre and that there are already several vacant lots along Hastings Street only six blocks away.

Another resident, Annie Kwong, stated in a letter that the theatre is an iconic part of Burnaby Heights and the proposed development would not only impede her view, but would also create dust, noise and traffic disruptions during construction.

Nelson Chow attended the public hearing, and asked council to reject the rezoning application until the Dolphin can find another location. He also expressed concern about the lack of evening entertainment in the area.

The property is owned by Heights Entertainment, which is comprised of three local investors, including Sheldon and Marie Scott.

The rezoning recently heard second reading from council. When it receives third reading and final adoption, the theatre will close operations.

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