Heritage designation contemplated
A downtown jewel will soon be recognized for its historical significance.
Council committee agreed with a staff report to place the former Geneva Theatre on the city’ s Heritage Register list for ‘undesignated properties of cultural value or interest.’
But councillors, who will likely ratify the motion at their meeting Monday evening, stopped short of proceeding with a full designation of the property through the province’s Heritage Act.
Coun. Ted Emond, who chairs council committee meetings, said that requesting the full designation would have meant owner Donald Porter couldn’t continue on the restoration work he has planned for the West Street building ’s facade. “If we designated it now, we’re designating it in its current incarnation,” Emond said, noting that would have made it more complicated for Porter to continue the restoration work he has planned over the next year.
“They are contemplating renovations to parts of the building.”
Councillors agreed with a Municipal Heritage Committee recommendation to seek the full heritage designation after that work is completed.
Porter said he’s happy with council’s move to begin the process of having the building’s heritage formally recognized.
“I’m not done yet,” said Porter, who plans to begin work next spring to replicate the building’s original 1939 facade.
That project, which could be completed by the summer, involves installing five plate-glass windows, getting the box office operational and protecting the marquee.
As well, Porter said the theatre has the only neon sign left in the city; something he also wants to ensure remains protected.
Porter said that he’s recently spent $160,000 on interior improvements so he’s not currently “sitting on a ton of money” to immediately begin the facade project.
Donald Porter stands outside the Geneva Theatre in the city's downtown core in this file photo. This week, council committee agreed with a staff report to place the former Geneva Theatre on the city's Heritage Register list.