November 04, 2015 - 1:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - Kamloops residents are not only voting on a performing arts centre this week, they are also voting on a new downtown parkade.
On Saturday, Nov. 7, residents will vote on whether or not to borrow $49 million to build a performing arts centre. The $90 million price tag has been a major sticking point for some residents since the preliminary business case was released in April.
Often overlooked, a substantial portion of that cost, $25 million, goes toward building what a downtown association believes is a much needed amenity in the city’s core — more parking.
The Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association wrote a report dating back to 2012 identifying parking as a major issue in the downtown.
Property owners in the city’s centre currently have the highest taxes per square foot in Kamloops and carry a large portion of the entire tax burden, according to the association. It believes the high levels of vacant space in the downtown core are dropping property values and causing businesses to move to different areas, and tax catchments, in the city. The association believes a large part of the downtown problem revolves around parking.
In the report, a number of issues were identified but the biggest problem was the lack of parking stalls downtown. The association determined there is at least a 200 stall deficit, which includes a wait list for off street parking and the loss of more than 200 permanent spots.
The performing arts preliminary business case identified parking as an important part of the overall project; not only for use of the centre itself, but also for use of the entire downtown.
The centre requires one parking stall per every seven seats, which translates into at least 221 stalls for the 1550 seat centre. But as parking was identified as an issue, the businesses case recommended an additional parking level to account for future growth in downtown Kamloops. Parking level one is currently designed for 155 stalls and parking level two for 190 making a grand total of 345 stalls.
While 84 current stalls will be lost as a result of the new construction, there will be an overall net gain of 261.
On Nov. 7 residents vote in a referendum where they will be asked if they are in favour of borrowing up to $49 million to design and construct the parkade and performing arts centre complex. The referendum itself will cost roughly $160,000.
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 property.
The centre and parkade will be financed through a one percent increase in property taxes in 2016 and an additional one per cent in 2017, which translates into roughly $40 dollars, per household, per year for 20 years.
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