Vacant Saint John theatre featured in documentary
Saint John's Paramount Theatre and the fight for its future will be featured on a documentary that airs on CBC television Saturday.
The film follows Mike McDonald, who fought to save the theatre, as he travels to other communities around North America to find out how they preserved their historic movie houses.
But the fate of the 65-year-old vacant and crumbling former movie complex, empty since 2005, is no clearer today.
McDonald says he was counting on a happy ending.
Uptown Saint John had wanted to transform the old, vacant theatre on King Square into two large performance spaces and a café, restoring the dilapidated interior to its former Art Deco-style glory and making it the centre piece of a performing arts district.
But after the business agency walked away from plans to restore the building, he realized that wouldn't be the case.
"It definitely took a toll on me and it would take a toll on anyone. I think it took a toll on a lot of people. This thing was not just Mike McDonald, this was Uptown Saint John who really put a lot of sweat equity into this," he said.
Uptown Saint John could no longer lead the project, which had an estimated upfront cost of $3.5 million, without financial commitments from government and the private sector
The building is still standing, but McDonald says there doesn't seem to be enough community interest to transform it into an entertainment centre.
"It wasn't just a disappointment for me, I think there was a lot of disappointment because I know a lot of Uptown Saint John saw this vision as an important cog in the wheel for the municipality as a whole."
The documentary, by Hemmings House Pictures, will be shown on CBC-TV Saturday at 8 p.m.