North

Whitehorse movie theatre closed for safety violations

The Yukon Theatre could re-open by Friday, the owner says. It was closed after safety inspectors found problems with emergency lighting and faulty exit signs.

Landmark Cinemas says Yukon Theatre should re-open Friday, after faulty lighting is fixed

The Yukon Theatre in downtown Whitehorse was closed last week after safety inspectors found problems with emergency lighting and exit signs. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

A Whitehorse movie theatre — closed last week after a safety inspection — will likely re-open on Friday, according to owner Landmark Cinemas.

The Yukon Theatre, on Wood Street, was forced to shut its doors after city fire officials found problems with the lighting in the building. Some exit signs were not properly lit and emergency lighting was not working.

"Whenever we have a serious life safety issue like non-functioning emergency lighting, that triggers an emergency response from us. We have to do something to deal with that quickly," said Wayne Smith of the Whitehorse Fire Department. 

Smith says there were also no records of the emergency lighting being checked. That's a monthly requirement, he says, "to show that the owner is actually taking these things seriously."

Wayne Smith of the Whitehorse Fire Department says once the lighting is fixed, officials will do another inspection. 'If everything is fine, they can re-open,' he said. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

"Once those issues are properly addressed, they will call me, I'll go back I will do another inspection, and if everything is fine, they can re-open," Smith said.

Bill Walker, CEO of Landmark Cinemas Canada, said an electrician is now working to fix the problems as fast as possible. He says the issues were "nothing major, per se."

"It was just some issues that were identified that, given the building's age, had to be rectified," he said. "We're hopeful we'll be ready for Friday." 

'Past its better days'

Some Whitehorse residents said they were disappointed to see the theatre temporarily closed, though not surprised.

The aging two-screen theatre has plenty of detractors — it's a far cry from the plush, reclining-seat multiplex cinemas found in other Canadian cities.

"It's terrible," said Noelle Lang, who saw movies at the theatre as a child, and now sometimes brings her own kids. "It's far, far, far past its better days.

Landmark Cinemas hopes to re-open the theatre by Friday. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

"It's hard, because [kids] see all these movies they want to go see, and as parents, like, I take my Purell, I wipe it down ... I spray the chairs — like I'm phobic, because it's just been too long."

Walker admits the theatre — one of two in Whitehorse, both owned by Landmark Cinemas — could be a lot better. The company hoped at one time to build a new theatre, but "could never make those economics come together," he says.

Instead, Walker hopes to renovate the existing building — some day.

"We know that we don't serve the market well, and we don't do it justice, for what it deserves ... but you know, as a company sometimes you've got to prioritize things, and we just haven't made it to Whitehorse yet."

with files from George Maratos and Philippe Morin

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