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Nelson, B.C., may gut only cinema for squash club

03/19/2012 08:07 EDT | Updated 05/19/2012 05:12 EDT

The only movie theatre in Nelson, B.C., may be closed for good and converted into a squash and climbing centre.

Nelson's historic Civic Theatre, built in 1935, could once seat 700 people in front of its single screen.

Once run by the city, a group of independent entrepreneurs began to renovate the theatre in the fall of 2010. They started the job, tearing out the old seating, but ran out of money halfway through and left everything behind — including their tools.

"Dismantled, I guess is the best way to put it," said city inspector John Southam. "There's electrical wires hanging from the ceiling and [it] needs a paint job and much more."

The city has tried to encourage other groups to take over the theatre and bring it back to life, but it's been a hard sell according to Mayor John Dooley.

"You know, the way things are happening with home theatre, internet, Netflix, it's a tough business," he said.

The city hopes it can keep the building as a theatre, but recognizes that may not be possible.

A proposal to gut the theatre and convert it to a squash and climbing club went before city council on Monday.

Blueprints for the Nelson Downtown Athletic Club show plans for three squash courts, two multi-purpose gyms, a climbing wall and social lounge over two floors.

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