November 09, 2015 - 7:00 PM
KAMLOOPS – While the no-side won the Kamloops performing arts centre referendum, the spokesperson for the group formed to get that result says the city shouldn’t see it as a failure.
“Why use this as a road block? Look at it, use the momentum, keep the ball rolling,” Nelly Dever says.
The former Kamloops city councillor is a downtown business owner and spokesperson for the PAC Not Yet group. She says they are in support of a performing arts centre but one not one built on the backs of property taxpayers.
“It was a weak business case,” Dever says. “There was not a lot of justification for the numbers. We need a different financial model that more people in the community can support.”
What Dever and her group would like to see is a greater attempt to fund the centre through the private sector. She says a new plan should include corporate and individual donations and secure grants up front.
She believes the city missed an opportunity by not partnering with developers to either construct a downtown parkade or build residential properties above the proposed arts centre. She says condos above the proposed centre would have been "valuable airspace" and gone a long way towards generating revenue for the project.
Devers says the city needs to move forward with a new parkade.
"The hardest thing about downtown is finding parking,” she says, “I don't know if a parkade and a performing arts centre necessarily go together, but both need to be addressed. Whether they remain together is up to the city.”
If a new business case is created, Dever believes the project would need to scale back considerably calling the proposed arts centre the "Cadillac of arts buildings."
Dever says her group spoke with operators of the Nanaimo performing arts centre about their facility. Nanaimo has a catchment population of a similar size to Kamloops. She says that community's centre has only 804 seats, compared to the proposed 1,500 in Kamloops. She says it also doesn't have a black box theatre or multiple rehearsal halls.
She says the next business plan for a performing arts centre must identify what are needs and what are wants.
“We do believe this project can be done.”
Residents voted on Saturday, Nov. 7, against borrowing $49 million to construct a performing arts centre and parkade complex.
The plan envisioned a $90 million project, with $25 million slated to build an underground parkade. The project was proposed to be funded with a two per cent tax increase over the course of two years, for the next twenty years.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015