Church group has big plans for Surrey's beloved Clova Cinema site

Church group has big plans for Surrey’s beloved Clova Cinema site

CLOVERDALE — The new owners of the Clova Cinema building, Crossridge Church, is looking at future possibilities for the landmark site.

The Clova will continue to show films throughout the summer, at which point its existence as a theatre will come to an end. After that, lead pastor Lee Francois said there are a number of possibilities for the beloved building.

"We’re still working through all that might be involved in it, so I can’t give you five things of here’s what we’re going to do, but obviously we’re going to be using it for our Sunday morning gatherings and we’re going to be using it for our band practice Wednesdays," he said.

Francois also indicated that they were leaning toward having it operate as something of a community venue when not being used for church-related functions.

An example, he said, would be the Cloverdale Learning Centre, located across the street from the Clova.

"So we actually rent their space on Sunday mornings to do our kids’ ministry and we’ve partnered with them a little bit, at Christmastime we’ve helped a number of families with Christmas hampers and we have a good working relationship with them," said Francois. "So I was talking to them this week and they asked if, going forward, they could use the Clova for their grad ceremony and we said absolutely, we’d love to do that for them."

Other scenarios posed could see the building used as a venue for local theatre performances or even concerts, as Francois said he’s heard a local Surrey group might be interested in the site.

"For us purchasing this theatre, it’s pretty rundown and needs a lot of work and we’re going to be making a significant financial investment to bring it up to standards. But we think it’s going to be a fantastic venue in the future and we think it’ll be great for the community for a number of things."

As for movies, Francois said they are definitely interested in showing movies at the Clova but whether that would be digital or traditional film would still have to be figured out.

"We’ve talked about Christmastime, maybe running a classic movie and doing it by donation with all proceeds going to the food bank or going to something (that would be) a local boost to the community," he said.

Finally, when asked about some of the comments made on Facebook and Twitter accusing the church of "shutting down the Clova," Francois said the comments were unfortunate, as the church likely prolonged the life of the struggling cinema.

"Our original hope was that they would have been able to secure a long-term lease and we would have continued to rent from them," said Francois.

"That wasn’t going to happen and we have provided a steady source of revenue for them for two-and-a-half years and I would say we’ve extended their life by virtue of doing that.

"Now, we want to be as gracious as possible to give them a long enough runway to find a new avenue. We understand the place this theatre has had in the community and there are a lot of memories attached to it, we get that, but our desire is to be a blessing to the community and we think there’s more than one way to do that."

cpoon@thenownewspaper.com