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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about a new rec centre for Cache Creek and health orders that hurt the arts

Dear Editor,

I would like to say how delighted to hear the old Cache Creek pool may be replaced with a much- needed new facility. Kudos to Coun. Wendy Coomber, and Coun. Lisa Dafoe, who voted in favour of it.

I would like to add some input if I may: people are on the move! One of my children has moved to a mining town in B.C. (Elkford). Their activities include skiing, snowboarding, hiking, fishing and hunting, and swimming in an indoor recreation centre. The town of Sparwood, 30 kilometres away, has one as well.

These recreation centres are the nucleus of the townspeople’s entertainment. Not long ago, I was at a birthday party for one of the kids, and a few of the lifeguards spilled dozens of coloured balls into the pool. As you can imagine, there were shrieks of laughter from the children as they tossed the balls around. There is hockey, a weight rooms, skating and swimming lessons, birthday parties, etc., all under one roof. There is a kiosk, owned by a local, which has hot dogs, French fries, drinks, etc. where parents can sit and watch their children.

Just think, a new facility with a Gold Rush theme on the walls of a new recreational facility. I, for one, would like to see one or two representatives make the trip up to these two towns and have a look-see, make inquiries, and talk to the people at Teck, the driving force behind these centres. Costly, yes, but I believe it can be done. People will come; change is in the air!

Chloe Gravelle

Merritt, B.C.

(Cache Creek business owner)

Dear Editor,

I have to start this letter by saying that my opinion is 100 per cent biased, since I run a local not-for-profit arts organization, but it’s becoming very clear to me that the Province of British Columbia seems to favour alcohol over the arts.

Last week the Kamloops Film Society received a call from Interior Health where they revoked the permission they had given us in early February to have small private bookings in the theatres for no more than six people, all from the same household. Apparently, various jurisdictions from across B.C. were getting requests from movie theatres to do the same thing and there were also complaints, though we aren’t sure if these complaints were about us specifically or even what the complaints were. Interior Health, it seems, got a slap on the wrist from the Ministry of Health, who reiterated that movies at a theatre were seen as an “event” and thus had to be shut down. Interior Health should not have given us permission in the first place. Back to full shutdown we go.

The Paramount Theatre was closed from mid-March to September during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. We survived by taking advantage of federal programs and by running a drive-in with community partners. We opened once a week in September, expanding to three days per week in October and November, as well as launching the private bookings. We increased cleaning protocols, added plexiglass, created safe pathways with decals, added safety signage, sectioned off seating for proper spacing, bought new safety equipment and supplies, and developed a COVID safety plan.

Many of our audience members remarked how safe they felt coming to the theatre. This shouldn’t be surprising, as we were only allowed 50 people per screening, so Theatre 1 (507 seats) was less than 10 per cent “full” even with a sellout, and Theatre 2 (270 seats) was less than 20 per cent full.

For a small operation like ours, all of these extra steps amounted to huge costs. Though we have been able to offset some expenses with grants, the impact is still significant.

We were surviving. Then, at the end of November, new orders shut us down even though retail stores, restaurants, pubs, and cafés remained open. We cancelled almost twenty-five private bookings as well as our public programming in December, and remained closed until February, when we made our case to Interior Health: if a family can sit around a table at a restaurant where there are other people at other tables, why not alone in a theatre?

To their credit, Interior Health was logical, and gave us permission for small private bookings. At least we had something. That has now been taken away.

When I look into our two vast empty theatres, I cannot fathom a logical explanation for why groups can gather at pubs and restaurants, but cannot watch a film. Six people from the same household can sit around a table, drink alcohol, share appies, and have their masks off, but those same six people can’t come into a 500-seat theatre and watch a film and eat popcorn because it is deemed an “event.”

I understand that we are dealing with an unprecedented pandemic and that going to the movies is not essential right now. But is socializing over drinks? Is eating at restaurants, where takeout is an option? Is standing in line for a coffee? I don’t want to throw any businesses under the bus, as everyone is trying their best to survive this pandemic and doing what they can, but having movie theatres in a different grouping than restaurants and pubs doesn’t make any logical sense. For a small not-for-profit organization like ours, these decisions have huge consequences and could mean the difference between survival and closing permanently.

We just want the orders to be applied logically and fairly across sectors. Shutting down an industry that has no reported cases, but allowing higher risk ventures to keep going, seems like a witch-hunt against the arts.

Dušan Magdolen

Executive Director

Kamloops Film Society


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