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Performing arts centre may be a record-setter

Image Credit: City of Kamloops
April 14, 2015 - 2:31 PM

KAMLOOPS - If the City of Kamloops proceeds with its preliminary business plan for a new performing arts centre and parkade, it would be the most expensive municipal building ever built in the interior of B.C.

The long-awaited report for the 97,600 square-foot facility — which includes a 1,200-seat main theatre, 350-seat studio theatre, rehearsal halls, other amenities and a 200-stall parking garage — comes in at $90 million, albeit $20 million of that is for the parkade alone and roughly $4 million is adjustable.

For some comparison to other B.C. municipalities, only Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre comes close. Originally slated to cost $56 million, the events centre was built at the height of a province-wide construction jobs shortage which helped boost costs to nearly $81 million.

For that price, Penticton got two sheets of ice including a 5,125-seat arena which expands to even more seats for non-hockey events. It also includes upgrades to the Penticton Trade and Convention centre, the hockey hall of fame and other amenities.

Prince George Free Press editor Bill Phillips says there has recently been talk of building a performing arts centre in Prince George as well, but with a $50-million price tag city council members are not very eager to pursue the option.

No other construction project in the last 15 years even comes close in price either. Kelowna’s 15-year-old 6,000-seat arena cost $22 million to build in 2000 ($29 million if you adjust for inflation.) Kelowna's Rotary Centre for the Arts building cost $6.93 million for a 350-seat theatre and other amenities and opened in 2002.

The City of Kelowna is preparing to build a new RCMP police station it declares its most expensive project ever at a budget to $60 million.

In 2007 the Tournament Capital Centre officially opened in Kamloops. It cost about $23 million and incorporated the existing Canada Games Pool. It was part of a larger $48-million investment in sports facilities approved through a 2003 referendum.

Royal Lepage Place in West Kelowna is a twinned arena with a dry floor for performances and other amenities. It opened in 2007 for roughly $13 million.

At about $25 million, the Wood Innovation and Design Centre is the only recent building to come even close in price in Prince George, though it is not a civic-owned building. No other major building has taken place in Prince George in the last 15 years.

None of the buildings are exactly comparable to the proposed Kamloops project, expected to open by 2020.

If approved, paying for it will be complicated. Residential taxes would increase one per cent next year and another one per cent in 2017. The city plans to use $25 million from reserves, $410,000 per year from parking revenues and another $3.5 million per year in grants until 2020.

Assuming it can get another $10 million in grants and naming rights, that still leaves the city with nearly $49 million in debt from 2020 to 2040.

That means taxpayers will be on the hook for $3.38 million per year for 20 years in debt costs, on top of the $900,000 per year for operating costs.

The city is planning to formally choose the site, how the facility may operate and a plan to involve the public in making the final decisions in the coming weeks. A public input session to discuss the preliminary report will be held Saturday, April 18 at Interior Savings Centre from noon to 2 p.m.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dana Reynolds at dreynolds@infonews.ca or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

— With files from Marshall Jones.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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