The Salmon Arm Community Co-operative Sports Center Association met October 1st, 1946. The first order of business was the consideration of the name change to Salmon Arm Community Cooperative Association.
Directors elected were S.C. Elliot, F. Marshall, P.E. Pike, N.S. Minion, A.A. Robinson, F. Ibbotson, C.C. Barker, J.E. Campbell, and Ken Hunter. The directors were authorized to purchase the Rex Theatre at the same meeting.
The group was formed to consider the creation of a memorial to those who had served in the Second World War. The decision was made to build a memorial arena that also met the community’s needs for skating and ice hockey facilities.
The Association investigated sources of financing for this project and it was decided to purchase the existing Rex Theatre by the sale of debentures and non-interest bearing shares. It soon became apparent that the Rex Theatre building and equipment were outdated and it was decided that a new theatre should be built and officially opened for business.
In the meantime, a separate organization was formed to secure funds for the construction of the proposed arena. Construction was commenced in 1956 and the Salmon Arm Memorial Arena was ready for use on July 1, 1958. Surplus revenues from the operation of the Salmar were directed to the arena until responsibility for the operation of the arena was assumed by local government.
With the future of the arena assured, the objectives of the Association were expanded to include many other worthwhile community endeavors including sport and recreation, healthcare and the arts. Theatre revenues were also used to upgrade and enhance the Salmar. In the mid-1970s, the Salmar was renovated and new projection equipment purchased. In 1984, further renovations, including reconstruction of the lobby, enlargement of the stage and installation of special lighting to encourage live performances, were completed. In 1990 the Alexander Street façade of the Salmar, including signage, was upgraded. Technical improvements to projection and sound equipment continued to be made on an ongoing basis.
In 1978 the Association purchased the Starlite Drive-In Theatre and operated that facility in conjunction with the Salmar for many years. The Starlite was sold in September of 1990 to make way for the planned expansion of the junction of Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 97B.
In November of 1987, the name of the Association was changed to Salmar Community Association with the intent of making the community ownership of the Salmar more obvious to the many new residents of the Salmon Arm area.
By 1992 it became apparent that the operations of the Association needed to be expanded both to service the entertainment needs of a rapidly growing community and to ensure that the operations of the Association would remain commercially viable. After considerable discussion it was determined that the Association would build a new theatre complex.
Many issues, including the location and design of the new complex were considered and dealt with over the next several years. A suitable site was located on a portion of an undeveloped public parking lot on Hudson Avenue. It was then determined that a multiplex facility would be built, with four separate movie screens sharing a common projection room, lobby and other facilities. Financing was secured and construction commenced in October of 1996. The new complex was officially opened to the public as Salmar Grand Cinemas May 16, 1997.
The theatre capacity created by Salmar Grand Cinemas allows the Association to offer a wide variety of movies, often on the same date they are released in larger centres. The Association continues to operate the Salmar Theatre as a movie theatre and as a venue for live performances.
Salmar Community Association continues, in accordance with the vision of its founding members, to operate its community owned facilities for the benefit of the residents of Salmon Arm and Shuswap.