The donation of the Paramount Theatre to the City of Chilliwack looks a lot less like a gift now that there is a $350,000 price tag to demolish the building.
The owner of the doomed cinema, 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 non-conforming proposals to refurbish the building, city council voted six-to-one to demolish the landmark on Aug. 21 of this year.
In February, city hall received an offer from the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) to demolish the Paramount at no cost to the city, since it intended on demolishing the Ewert Building at 46177 Yale Rd., the property directly west of the Paramount.
CEPCO is an economic development entity set up by, and owned by, the City of Chilliwack.
CEPCO recently posted on its website the costs put forward by the winning proposal in response to the RFP issued for demolition.
The cost to demolish the Paramount came in at $343,000. The cost to demolish the Ewert Building is $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 is $485,155. Add 12 per cent HST and CEPCO's bill will be closer to $550,000.
Laura Reid, who was involved with the Chilliwack Paramount Film Society's bid to take over the building, said that demolition price tag is roughly double the estimate her group received for restoration.
"$200,000 to $300,000 to restore a city landmark or $485,000 for another gravel parking lot downtown?" Reid wrote in a statement issued Monday. "Mayor and Council have chosen the parking lot."
She suggested the bill to demolish would be footed by city taxpayers but that's not entirely accurate, according to Mayor Sharon Gaetz.
CEPCO is owned by city hall but the entity makes its own money through investments at Canada Lands and elsewhere.
As to the cost, Gaetz said the amount of asbestos in the Paramount added significantly to the price.
"Is it high? I think it's the cost of doing business," she told the Times Tuesday. "There are two buildings that are coming down . . . there is extensive asbestos in the Paramount. It will be three weeks for the hazmat people who deal with hazardous materials cleaning that out."
The Ewert building has significant amounts of asbestos as well. Of the $130,000 to demolish that structure, 72 per cent, or $94,000, is for hazardous material removal and disposal.
Of the $343,000 for the Paramount, $74,000 is dedicated to asbestos removal.
Gaetz added that there was also a cost to not demolishing the structure.
"It would cost money to board it up and, I also believe, drain the energy from the downtown having another boarded building in the centre of town," she said.