Corrine Lea is the owner of the Rio Theatre.


Thursday Corinne Lea of the Rio Theatre told several media outlets she’d finally gotten a liquor primary license for live events at her venue, after waiting several months.

She also thought she would continue to be able to show movies at the Rio, as long as she didn’t sell liquor at the screenings.

But she was wrong.

“She was advised both orally and in writing during the liquor licensing process that she would not be permitted to do that, because the regulations do not permit us to issue a liquor primary [license] to a movie theatre,” said Karen Ayers, general manager of the provincial Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.

A chastened Lea had to sign an extra condition on her license Thursday.

“The province has taken the extra step to put a condition on our license – and that just happened today – that we are not allowed to show films or any type of cinematic screening, anytime, ever,” said Lea, who said she had been “misinformed” by a consultant about showing movies.

“I have signed it, I have agreed to their conditions, because I’m pretty much damned if I do, damned if I don’t. So I have no option but to sign it. And I am no longer going to be showing movies at the Rio Theatre.”

The last film at the theatre will be The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo this Sunday. When the credits roll, it will end 74 years of movies at the East Vancouver theatre, which is at Broadway and Commercial. The Rio will now be a live event venue, and “dark” on the nights when it had planned to show movies.

NDP arts critic Spencer Chandra Herbert thinks the “silly rule” should be changed. He points out several provinces (Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba) allow liquor to be consumed in movie theatres, “and the sky hasn’t fallen down.”

“If people act responsibly and are treated like adults, I don’t think there’s going to be a problem,” Herbert said.

“You can drink in a bowling alley, you can drink at Rogers Arena in a room full of kids, and they don’t seem to have a problem with that.”

The LCCB’s Ayers said that several theatres and theatre chains have in fact approached the government about changing the regulation.

“Cineplex Odeon has approached government requesting government change the regulations to enable movie theatres to be licensed,” she said. “As have a number of other theatres, including the Rio, the Vogue, and the Lido Theatre in Fort St. John.”




20 January 2012

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