Walkerville Theatre: Finally
Getting a Life?
Issue #16: Summer 2001
earlier story on The Tivoli, click here
theatre, movie house, bingo hall, kids theatre: the Walkerville
Theatre, a.k.a."theTivoli" has had many incarnations since
its opening over 80 years ago. In the near future the theatre, mostly
unused in recent years, may take on a new life.
leaseholders Joe Ganci and Jeremy Marentette have plans that they
say include "a balanced, multi-faceted venue that will benefit
the entire community." The duos plans for the historic
theatre include a gay and lesbian bar on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
evenings, while the remaining days will support public events, including
charities, benefits, fashion shows, art exhibitions, concerts and
possibly movies, as in days gone by.
residents oppose these plans, especially as it relates to Ganci
and Marentettes liquor licence application that will allow
the nightclub to host up to 500 people. A petition opposing the
liquor license application was coincidentally signed by 500 people,
including Don Denomme, a 25-year neighbourhood resident.
have enough bars in the area period," says Denome "We
dont want to turn Walkerville into another downtown. We want
to continue to have a nice family neighbourhood."
who has restored several buildings in the neighbourhood, would like
to see something done with the theatre, but declares that if a bar
is the only answer "
then tear it down."
and Marentette are proceeding with the nightclub concept whether
the liquor license is approved or not but they are confident
they will get approval.
hear about the petitions against bars, but they never hear about
the letters of support that are submitted as well. We see no reason
why this commercial area, with other bars nearby, wont get
approved," says Ganci.
not all residents are opposed to plans for a new nightclub in Walkerville.
Nicholson Banks, who lives and works in Olde Walkerville supports
the plans for the Theatre.
is a good thing. I think we should give their idea a good chance.
There are many gay and lesbian people in the area; they are a part
David Pepper questions the need for another nightclub in Walkerville.
would like to see a use that would benefit everyone. There are not
a lot of things to do in the area for children a museum would
be great." Pepper notes that grants are available from the
of six area bars is right in Peppers neighbourhood; he and
his neighbours have experienced problems as a result.
2:30 in the morning, patrons are yelling and cursing as they head
home, theyre urinating between houses, or breaking things
Ive had my car windows smashed twice."
violence will not be an issue," says Ganci. "Our grand
opening in September is booked solid. The average age of our guests
is 30, and most are professionals. The gay and lesbian community,
many from right here in Walkerville, are much more mature than the
people in the kiddie bars downtown."
Nancy Johns believes the community will benefit from the plans for
nice to see something opening in the theatre; itll clean up
the place. If patrons park where theyre supposed to park then
there will be no problem. I dont think the type of crowd that
will be coming to the theatre will be noisy or violent. Actually,
these two guys are doing a fabulous thing for the community."
will not be a problem," says Marentette. "Agreements with
three local businesses to rent parking spaces are already in place."
municipal lot on the corner of Lincoln and Wyandotte will also be
used. And the two men also have plans to valet park, which they
say will eliminate concerns about patrons parking in residential
and Marentette feel residents who oppose their project dont
understand their plans for the theatre and think that some may be
misinformed about the seating capacity requested in the liquor license
theatre can seat 1500 people. Weve applied for a 500 seating
capacity license, not 1500" says Ganci.
to the local licensing office, increasing the seating capacity of
the liquor license requires similar procedures to the initial application.
But clubs that set up in the citys core were able to increase
their capacity after being granted licenses, usually with little
Perpich of the Lincoln Road United Church Mens Group led the
petition against the liquor license.
years ago," says Perpich, "another petition was circulated
when the previous owners applied for a liquor license. The application
was withdrawn although Im not certain whether it was due to
the petition. This time, approximately 500 people signed the petition
within a two three-week period."
Gladstone resident for many years, Perpich is familiar with the
impact of the existing local licensed establishments.
think theres an over-intensification now
there are six
licensed establishments between Hall, Walker, Riverside and Niagara."
to Perpich, having a commercial strip running through a residential
area "makes it difficult for people to come home after work
and live their lives. The petition was to help avoid more problems
Pepper, he would like to see the theatre developed to become more
suitable to the needs of the community.
debate over the liquor license has been fractious, to put it gently.
Ganci and Marentette claim to have had little success in reaching
out to those who oppose their plans. According to Ganci: "We
made several attempts to contact the United Church, but we were
ignored. Then we were told that the church had nothing to say to
frustrated, Ganci says, "We wanted them to know about our plans
to help this community. We thought churches were supposed to open
their hearts to people, but they wouldnt for us; we think
theyve treated us unfairly."
for the fate of the theatre Ganci says, "Were putting
not only our life savings into it, but also our heart and soul.
We want people to know that we care."
Note: We want to hear from both local and former residents about
their views on the fate of The Walkerville Theatre well
publish these in the October Issue see our contact info on