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Fire at neighbouring business closes Vernon theatre

The theatre has been closed since Feb. 10 after sustaining damage from a fire that broke out next door
The Vernon Towne Theatre has been closed since Feb. 10, 2022, after sustaining damage from a fire that broke out at a neighbouring business. (Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce photo)

Months after reopening with new renovations after a year of closure and crowdfunding, the Vernon Towne Theatre has run into another setback.

A fire at a neighbouring business forced the historic theatre to close on Feb. 10, and it has remained closed ever since. The theatre hopes to reopen in another month, but that timeline could be extended depending on what may need to be replaced or repaired.

The theatre had reopened in fall 2021 by the non-profit Okanagan Screen Arts Society, which had rescued the theatre from closure and had just finished revamping the space.

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help the Screen Arts Society reopen the theatre as quickly as possible.

“Even though the fire was not in their business and they are insured, the theatre and Society are facing unexpected losses in the tens of thousands of dollars (deductibles, increased premiums, lost business, etc),” organizer Christopher John said.

Business was going well at the theatre before the fire and John said they were doing well enough to start hosting fundraisers for other local groups.

“What should have been a continued great stretch of business into the spring has now turned into a big set back for the devastated board and others who have put thousands of volunteer hours into the renovations and opening the theatre up for the community under difficult circumstances,” John said.

The theatre has been serving the community since it opened as a dance hall in 1929. It became one of the most modern and advanced cinemas in 1938, and generations of North Okanagan residents have attended since.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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