New life for old Steva Theatre
A proposal to give new life to a heritage building in Steveston Village won’t alter its original character, according to the city’s planning department.
Once a Japanese Buddhist temple and later the Steva Theatre, the 89-year-old building at 12191 First Ave. is now subject of a plan to convert it into a daycare centre for 25 children.
Chercover/Massie and Associates Ltd. is seeking a development permit and heritage alteration permit from city council, which lists the building as one of 17 heritage structures to be preserved in the fishing village.
The building, owned by Yuen Hing Chung and Yuen Ching Chung of Capstone Management Ltd., has been vacant for two years, according to city staff, and it last served as a location for the Arts Connection.
Interior renovations and some exterior modifications are proposed as part of the daycare conversion. Four new windows—with the heritage commission’s recommended wood frames—are planned for both the north and south sides of the building, and the rear and south sides will be reconfigured to provide outdoor play space.
That means the loss of five parking spaces, but the owner has secured an agreement for parking in a lot elsewhere in the village.
“From a design perspective, the proposed windows on the south wall have no impact on the overall character of the building, and the proposed windows for the north facade would result in a character consistent with the historical record for the building,” said planner Barry Konkin in a report.
No changes are planned for street-side, save for a new sign.
Built in 1924, the building was used as a temple until the internment of Japanese Canadians in 1941 during the Second World War. A two-storey addition was later added to the front, and in 1947, the Steva Theatre was born. It was said to be the only movie house on Lulu Island.
The theatre closed in 1960, according to an article by Ken Lorenz about the Steva. In the mid-1970s the theatre was sold and the building became a retail and performing arts centre, according to a city report.
•Opened in 1947; building sold in mid-1970s
•Opening night featured showing of 1946 film Black Beauty in front of full house of 420
•Admission was 10 cents; Saturday matinees were five cents
•Two showings of the same movie were featured nightly; three different films played each week
•At its opening it was the only theatre on Lulu Island
•Featured cushioned red leather seats with wooden arm rests, a small stage and two teaser curtains hung on the sides
•Glass-beaded movie screen measured 12 by 16 feet
*Sources: Richmond and You, October 1980; City of Richmond Archives