Save the Halifax Oxford Theatre
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Two weeks ago, the community of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was blindsided by the announcement that Cineplex had sold off the historic Oxford Theatre to local developer Nanco Group. In statements to the CBC, Nanco Group president Norman Nahas said that while he is "quite familiar with the significance of the site", he has no plans to keep the 80-year-old theatre in operation, and the property will likely be turned into a commercial and residential complex.
Many Halifax residents, myself included, have been dealing with feelings of anger and helplessness since the announcement. While it is unsurprising that a national corporate owner like Cineplex would not understand (or care about) the local history and sense of community surrounding the Oxford Theatre, it is less understandable why a local entity like Nanco Group would think this was an appropriate move to make.
The Oxford Theatre is the last historic single-screen cinema still standing in Halifax, and it is not simply a building. It is part of our community and part of our history. The idea of losing it to commercial development hurts deeply.
The single-screen Oxford Theatre opened to Nova Scotia audiences in 1937, billed as a "glamorous movie palace". In recent decades, it became the home of independent cinema, foreign films and old classics, supporting a cinematic experience rarely found in the modern multiplex cinemas. Going to the Oxford was -- and still is -- a social occasion to share with family and friends, and the more careful selection of films meant that viewers could see something special.
We have no other cinemas like it. Our other historic movie theatres, such as the Capitol Theatre, have been destroyed in the process of commercial development long since.
This petition calls on Nanco Group to find another option for keeping the Oxford Theatre fully operational as a CINEMA and as a part of the Halifax community, not just as a shell with the Oxford name. This may involve partnering with community organizations or the city council, selling it back to the community, finding a way to preserve it as an official piece of Halifax heritage, or something else entirely.
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