The on-again, off-again plans for a new movie theatre complex in Penticton have taken another turn.
Almost eight years after Landmark Cinemas president Brian McIntosh said the company was planning to open a new cinema, it appears Penticton could finally be getting one.
“I can’t confirm or deny that,” chuckled Landmark Cinemas chief operating officer Neil Campbell, who did acknowledge there is a press conference today and McIntosh would be there. “There is not much I can tell you.”
In January 2010 plans were announced that Landmark Cinemas would be building a six-screen multiplex at the proposed Channel Crossing shopping centre on the Penticton Indian Reserve. That plan now appears to have fallen by the wayside, as a press conference is planned for 1:30 p.m. today in Penticton’s downtown core. It is rumoured the plan is to build on the original site scouted — Liquidation World. Management at Liquidation World in Penticton confirmed the store will close on Nov. 1 and they are looking for a new location.
When asked if Landmark Cinemas was no longer considering the PIB development for a new theatre, Campbell said, “That would be what I would suspect if I were you.”
Landmark Cinemas announced in 2005 that the Liquidation World site was in consideration. The Westminster Avenue property is located across from an old gas station that closed in 2002. By 2007, the site had not yet received a clean bill of health from the provincial government — holding up plans for the movie theatre, along with issues of design and parking.
The familiar promise of a new theatre popped up again in 2008 when then-mayor Jake Kimberley said he and city staff met with Landmark Cinemas Canada, but there were still environmental issues to overcome on the Liquidation World site. The source of the site contamination was an ongoing investigation.
Downtown Penticton Association president Barb Haynes was also vague on the subject.
“There is an exciting announcement that will move forward in the very short term and we are excited to be part of the downtown development,” she offered.
Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger said he couldn’t say much about Landmark Cinemas, stating he did not have enough information about it to share with the public. He did say they are still aggressively pursuing the development along the river channel at the end of Green Avenue. Progress had been stalled, with the government requesting studies on environmental, transportation and other impacts a bridge installed there would have. He said those studies are now complete, with one showing 2,500 cars a day drive north to Kelowna for various reasons including going to the movies and shopping.
“We believe that development along the river channel will promote over 1,000 jobs which will be good for the South Okanagan,” said Kruger. “We put a package together collectively with the developers and the Penticton Indian Band and we gave that to Minister of Transportation within the last week. If we can build those amenities to keep people from the South Okanagan from going to Kelowna that is good for all our economies.”