Enderby’s Starlight Drive In Theatre hasn’t yet decided if it will open for the summer season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Starlight photo)

Drive-in theatre proposed for Grand Forks

City councillors will vote next month on whether to permit the use of the private property

Not wanting to let his hometown go through a summer without some prime 1980s nostalgia, Canada Rock Fest producer Chuck Varabioff is aiming to offer Grand Forks a throwback to his formative years through a drive-in theatre.

With provincial regulations cancelling Varabioff’s music festival this summer, he’s aiming to use the event’s traditional campground on 68th Avenue near Angus MacDonald Park to screen movies for up to 50 vehicles and some walk-ins on Friday and Saturday nights through the summer.

“Being a child of the ’80s, I’ve been to a number of drive-ins and I think even a few friends of mine snuck in in trunks of cars to drive-ins back in the day,” Varabioff said, though sneak-ins won’t be a problem if his plan gets the go-ahead from the city this time.

Varabioff told Grand Forks city council Monday that he’s looking to charge $25 per vehicle for a show. Ideally, he said, each evening would screen two movies – one General-rated film for families and one of a higher rating later on in the evening.

Films would be projected on a 40-foot inflatable screen that will be collapsed when shows aren’t running, and sound will be broadcast to car radios, Varabioff said. For walk-ins who would be spaced apart nearer to the screen, he said that there would be some speakers playing the movie’s audio for them to hear as well.

As for what he plans on screening, Varabioff said that he’s aiming to get newer films on screen, and announced Monday that Universal and Sony had approved him to screen their movies. Disney and Fox, he said, are out as options.

Once he’s narrowed down which movies he’s allowed to show, Varabioff said, he may introduce a playoff bracket like the one that’s been running for classic rock bands on his festival’s Facebook page. “Then if we narrow it down to six or eight movies,” he said, “then I might have a by-request month or a couple weeks. It could be fun.”

While an intermission will be offered for people to restart their vehicles and ensure their batteries are charged, Varabioff said that he will also have equipment on-hand to jumpstart those whose vehicles don’t last the night.

“If they have a big, powerful boombox in there,” he said, “they obviously don’t want to crank it up to 10.”

According to Grand Forks CAO Duncan Redfearn, a new temporary use permit needs to be issued to Varabioff before the drive-in can become a reality. On May 25, council voted unanimously to launch that process, which includes public notice announcements from the city in the newspaper and to neighbours.

If all gets approved in a timely manner, Varabioff said, the drive-in will begin screening in Grand Forks by the end of next month.

Varabioff had initially aimed to have 100 vehicles permitted on-site, but on May 22 the province came down with the 50-car cap on drive-in events.

“Anyone attending these events must stay in their cars unless they have to go to washrooms, which must be serviced with running water for proper hand hygiene,” the provincial statement reads.

Read more: COVID-19: B.C. Puts a cap on number of vehicles at outdoor drive-in events


@jensenedw
Jensen.edwards@grandforksgazette.ca

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