It's less a demolition than it is a deconstruction.
The work of tearing down Chilliwack's Paramount Theatre in some way parallels the political decision to flatten the iconic downtown theatre in the first place. That is, the process is slow, plodding and, for some, hard to watch.
"I guess that Save the Paramount thing didn't go so well, eh?" one passerby said to the Times at the scene of the demolition last week.
"Pretty sad. Another gravel parking lot just like the Empress," said another.
The demolition of the Paramount is taking place from the adjacent rubble-filled lot to the west that was the site of the Ewert building, which was demolished just before Christmas.
A huge hole in the side of the building has been created and workers are inside the theatre pulling apart the wood, steel and concrete structure.
It was a year ago that city hall received an offer from the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) to demolish the Paramount at no cost to the city. CEPCO already intended to demolish the Ewert Building, which it owned.
CEPCO is an economic development entity set up by, and owned by, the City of Chilliwack.
The Paramount's owner, Landmark Cinemas of Canada, donated the building and the property to the city in 2010. The final film was shown on Nov. 3 that year.
After years of uncertainty including at least three nonconforming proposals to refurbish the building, city council voted six-to-one last August to demolish the cinema.
The process has been a slow one given the amount of asbestos in the Paramount, and last week the beams from the roof were systematically and slowly being cut apart.
The cost to tear down the Paramount came in at $343,000. The cost to demolish the Ewert Building was $130,000. Add $7,155 for bonding and insurance plus $5,000 for removal and transportation of the Paramount sign and the total CEPCO bill to demolish the two buildings is $485,155. Add tax and the bill will be closer to $550,000.
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