Citadel Theatre asks city for $2.78M loan to fix leaky roof

The Citadel Theatre’s roof is leaking and fixing it won’t be cheap. 

It’s estimated to cost $4.14 million to fix the failing roof and the non-profit group that runs the theatre is hoping to borrow nearly $2.8 million from the City of Edmonton to help with repairs.

Wendy Dupree, president of the board of directors, said patch-up work that the theatre’s been doing for at least three years is no longer sufficient on the 40-year-old building.

“To date, we haven’t had to cancel a performance because of the leaks,” she said. “But if we don’t take action this spring, which is when we want to start work, then that’s a very real risk.”

Dupree attended council’s community and public services committee meeting Wednesday to ask councillors to approve the loan.

Tarps are hung from the ceiling of the Citadel to help stop water from dripping on the floor. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

She said the leaks are affecting mostly the staff office space and the common space outside the theatre rooms.

“If you’ve been to the theatre lately, you may see buckets at some of our entrances, which of course we need to be really careful about because that’s where people come in and out to use the pedway system that’s connected to the LRT.”

Coun. Scott McKeen agreed the institution needs help.

“It’s kind of been beyond embarrassing,” McKeen said after the meeting. “It’s been leaking. They’ve actually have had pails out to catch the water.”

The roof was meant to last 25 years but it’s been in place for 33. Leaks have resulted in vegetation growth and ongoing water pooling, a report in front of the committee states.

“It’s one of the iconic buildings in this city, and it’s too bad it got to this situation,” McKeen said. 

Bins and buckets are set up in the common space at Citadel Theatre to catch water dripping from the roof. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Councillors agreed to the request and asked administration to draft a loan bylaw to present at a council meeting Feb. 26.

The Citadel Theatre is also getting $1.36 million from the city’s Community Facility Partner Capital Grant.

The Citadel Theatre opened in the current location at Churchill Square in 1976. The board signed a lease with the city in 1981 and is responsible for maintaining the building.

The city report outlined the possible risk that the theatre group could leave the building before its current lease expires Sept. 30, 2024.

But McKeen and other councillors seem satisfied to help the theatre fix the roof first and then discuss the next lease at a future date.

Jeff Boadway, a board member, described the Citadel as a 50-year partnership between the city, the community and the theatre. He asked councillors to consider long-term investment in the property.

“We have to find a sustainable model,” he said. “This loan only fixes part of the roof.”

Dupree said the theatre offers more to the community than just shows.

“The Citadel is a real cornerstone of the arts in Edmonton,” she said. “Another part of it is just the economic impact that the Citadel has on the city.”

The theatre has full-time employees, work for playwrights and 200 contractors that work throughout the year, she noted.


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