KAMLOOPS - Kamloops residents have one day to make up their minds on whether to vote for or against borrowing $49 million to build a performing arts centre before tomorrow's referendum.
Former city councillor Nelly Dever is the spokesperson for the PAC Not Yet campaign. Her group objects to the centre on a largely financial basis. Dever wants residents to know after interest payments, the $90 million performing arts centre and parkade would actually cost closer to $130 million and it comes out of the property taxpayer's pocket.
A group of predominately downtown associations and cultural groups launched what they called the YES campaign to encourage residents to vote in favour of the performing arts centre.
The city's recreation, social development and culture manager Barbara Berger says a performing arts centre is an expensive endeavour but it’s these amenities which improve the quality of life in a city.
She says the Tournament Capital Centre was a “bold vision” and the city likely “built bigger than our britches.” But now, she says, many couldn't imagine Kamloops without the centre.
“With a successful referendum we would then have to start putting out a request for proposals for a design company… architects and all that,” mayor Peter Milobar says. “It would probably take eight to 10 months to get to a full design.”
After professionals are selected, they would likely meet with user groups to decide upon amenities, layout, and finally figure out what is affordable or even plausible, he says. Most of 2016 would be spent in the design and planning phase, with construction not beginning until 2017 and running until 2020.
“We were told by consultants that four years is a fairly aggressive timeline to get buildings of this scope and magnitude done,” Milobar says.
When asked what would happen to the plans for the centre if residents vote no tomorrow, the mayor said he is focused on a positive outcome.
“If it gets defeated then we’ll have to figure it out then. We can’t build it without the $49 million worth of borrowing,” he said.
“I’m focused on getting a yes vote out and I’m confident that it’s a well put together financial plan. I’m not considering 'what ifs.' I don’t go into anything anticipating failure.”
The question in tomorrow's, Nov. 7, referendum is: Are you in favour of the City of Kamloops borrowing up to $49 million to design and construct the parkade and performing arts centre complex?
Voting takes place from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. at various locations throughout the city and at the Sahali Centre Mall from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. For a complete list of polling stations check out the City of Kamloops website.
The proposed centre is a $90 million dollar project, with $25 million slated specifically for a parkade. If built, it will be located at 393 Seymour St., the site of the former Kamloops Daily News.
The complex will be financed with a two percent increase in property taxes starting in 2016, which translates into roughly $40 dollars, per household, per year for 20 years.
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