Contractor Kai Epkens rips out the old flooring at the Beacon Theatre Sept. 15 on the first day of four weeks of scheduled renovations to the historic building.

Beacon Theatre under renovation

Patrons of the Beacon Theatre will have to wait a few weeks to catch their new favorite flick.

Patrons of the Beacon Theatre will have to wait a few weeks to catch their new favourite flick, but the work being done in the meantime should make the delay worthwhile.

Jason Llewellyn, secretary of the Lakes District Film Appreciation Society, said the community owned and operated theatre will likely reopen to fans of the big screen on the weekend of Oct. 10, but if the needed renovations are completed earlier then scheduled they’ll open sooner. He said the improvements during this time period would include replacing all the seats with modern theatre seating and putting down new vinyl flooring.

“The flooring that is in there now is just plywood that was painted and over the years with all the sugary drinks and stuff spilt it’s degrading and it’s a bit slippery,” said Llewellyn. “The seats came from a theatre where they were really designed to be on a flatter surface, so they slope forward a bit and they’re a bit uncomfortable.”

Llewellyn said the sloped flooring in the theatre created mobility issues for people in wheelchairs, so level platforms are being put in as well as some accessible seating to make the building more readily available to handicapped people. He said this renovation qualified them for a federal grant which is in addition to a grant they received from the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund (NKDF) to finance the repairs.

“I expect by the time we’re all said and done it’s going to be in the $45,000 to $50,000 range [in] cost,” he said, noting the seats and flooring came in at approximately $20,000 each. “It’ll cost us a little bit, but the majority of the cost was covered by the grants.”

To make way for the 150 new seats with attached cup holders the old seats were placed at the side of the building alongside Third Avenue and made available for free to anyone who wanted a three-or four-seat set. The response from the public was overwhelming, as the vast majority of the old seats found new homes by the second day.

Llewellyn said the hope is the new more comfortable seats will make coming to the theatre to enjoy some popcorn and a movie more attractive to people and a more enjoyable experience for everyone in the community. He said the society is looking into opportunities to further improve the building such as returning the exterior of the theatre back to its original design, but for now they’re just focusing on the grand re-opening.

“We’ll have a couple of events,” said Llewellyn. “We’ll have a family day event and then a seniors day event and have movies related to that and snacks and beverages. The details of that haven’t been planned, but certainly we’re going to have at least two different events.”