Cinema donor issues challenge

North Saanich councillor Craig Mearns pledges to match donations

Craig Mearns hugs Star Cinema volunteer fundraiser Susan Simosko (left) and owner Sandy Oliver. He’s challenging other people and businesses to match his $10

A recent visit to see a movie at Sidney’s Star Cinema has prompted a municipal councillor to put up a $10,000 donation to the theatre’s fund-raising campaign — and he’s challenging others to match it.

Craig Mearns, a councillor for the District of North Saanich, says he’s spoken with Star owner Sandy Oliver and they’ve agreed to issue a fundraising challenge to the community — Mearns will still make his donation and they’re hoping the combined generosity of other people will match the ten grand, for a total donation of $20,000 — or more.

“I really do feel strongly about (the Star Cinema),” Mearns said this week.

“If it were to leave Sidney, it would put a big hole in people’s entertainment opportunities here, especially for young people.”

The theatre is fundraising to buy a digital projector to be able to keep up with changing movie technology. Without it, they won’t be able to show certain films — ones that are in digital form only. The campaign, which began earlier this year, also hopes to use the money to refurbish parts of the building and amenities, such as the seats.

Oliver owned the small theatre on Third Street with her sister Carolyn Lewis. Lewis, 67, died May 24, 2012 after a battle with cancer. Keeping the Star going and modernizing has been Oliver’s goal — and that of her staff — ever since.

Mearns said his visit to the theatre re-emphasized in his mind the need for it in Sidney and that’s why he’s willing to make such a generous donation.

“It is an important cultural station for the community,” he said. “I see a lot of young people and seniors using the theatre because it’s in their community.”

Mearns has a history of making donations to worthwhile causes. He said he also made a large donation to the playground for the new North Saanich Middle School.

To learn more about the Star Cinema campaign or to donate, visit


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