If the Pantages is going to be saved… the time is now

Demolition of the Pantages Theatre is imminent! But as long as it still stands, there is hope. Following is a quick summary of the situation, and an even quicker list of things that can be done – that must be done – NOW.

The story so far

John Ziros is the latest person to take on the fight to save this storied building by maintaining a “Save the Pantages” Facebook page. He recently sent out an urgent and impassioned email:
“Demolition work is underway on the parcel of East Hastings buildings leading directly to the Pantages theatre. They started work on Thursday January 27th. They are working their way towards the Pantages Theatre. Right now! Not at some point in the future. Not in a few years. It is happening right now. Maybe by the time you read this letter, it will be too late. Maybe the theatre will be gone forever. One of Vancouver’s oldest Heritage Theatres. This is just so incredibly sad and unbelievable.”
For those who aren’t aware of the Pantages, here’s a very brief summary:
  • Built in 1907, the Pantages is the oldest surviving vaudeville theatre in Western Canada and the very first built by famed theatre owner Alexander Pantages. Legends from Charlie Chaplin to Babe Ruth appeared there. Its acoustics are outstanding. It also happens to be located near Main and Hastings, in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. Read more and see photos here. Or read why Heritage Canada chose the Pantages as one of its Top 10 Most Endangered Places – in 2007.
  • A coordinated effort to preserve, restore and develop the theatre was undertaken. Months of work by a cross-section of arts and community groups, in coordination with a progressive developer, resulted in a detailed plan that would see the Pantages become a state-of-the-art home for multiple local arts and performance groups, and a linchpin of renewal of the Main/Hastings area. Those who came together to create a vision for the future of the Pantages saw its location not as a liability, but a great opportunity.
  • City Council decided not to act on this plan, but instead to cancel the bonus-density exchange that was a key factor in enabling the restoration. Just when everything was in place to move forward, they withdrew their support entirely, effectively dooming the project. All the efforts of literally hundreds of individuals, supported by countless more, were cast aside.
Look at what Minneapolis did with their Pantages. Is Vancouver not capable of doing the same? What you can do
  1. WRITE MAYOR ROBERTSON and council at mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca and tell them that they must act to save this landmark. COPY YOUR E-MAIL to the Pantages Theatre Arts Society at cb0bc@gmail.com. The ironically named “Vision Vancouver” bunch needs to live up to their name.
  2. SIGN THE PETITION here: http://www.petitiononline.com/pantages.
  3. JOIN THE FACEBOOK PAGE – “Save the Pantages Theatre in Vancouver”.
  4. FORWARD THIS EMAIL to anyone and everyone you know who cares about Vancouver’s heritage and future.
— John concludes his letter as follows:
“Please stop the demolition process if there is any method possible. There is no compassion and no honour to our history, nor to our future, with this demolition of our oldest theatre. Please help save this jewel of our 125 years heritage. It is currently 103 years old … and it can be a future landmark for this city. It is your choice. Please choose to save the Historic Vancouver Pantages Theatre!”
I can only agree and urge you to take action, do your part to protect our city’s heritage and plan for a future that includes its glorious past. Complacency will not serve us here. Action, righteous anger, civic pride and activism will! This is OUR city and OUR heritage. Let Council know! Act NOW! The Pantages needs you! Adam Abrams adamabrams@shaw.ca

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *