KAMLOOPS – The people have spoken, the comments have been sorted and now city council members will review them and decide what the next steps should be on the proposed performing arts centre.
The city received public feedback regarding the proposed performing arts centre at an open house April 18. City staff have continued to gather more information to help council, and the public, make an informed decision. At this point, council has the power to delay or cancel referendum if it feels it needs additional information.
If a late fall referendum is envisioned, a report will need to be presented to council no later than May 26. The provincial government requires approval of the referendum question and its timelines are quite defined.
Initially, the city had allocated $240,000 for feasibility report by MHPM consulting. MHPM has used $150,000 of the total sum to complete phase one, or the preliminary business case, of the report. The remaining $90,000 will be used to address the issues brought up in the open house and complete phase two of the report in time for a potential referendum.
At the open house input was sought in the areas of functional program design, desired amenities, capital and operating cost estimates and any other concerns that residents had.
Among the comments from the community were the importance for good acoustics, the need for a lobby or reception area to be multipurpose, and a flexible space with the ability to adapt to varying performances.
Residents also want to ensure the centre fits with the current street scape, that it has inviting art space and potential art classes, and many desire restaurants or at least concessions in the centre. There was even talk about potential roof space being used as a restaurant, and some people suggested putting condos atop the centre. The parking structure was the major concern, as was accessibility to transit.
Finally, termed as 'sticker shock,' the $90 million price tag was by far the most discussed topic. Comments ranged from the proposed centre being far too expensive and the need for more information to how investing in arts and culture could enrich the city.
While the price was met mostly with trepidation, and not outright opposition, many people seem to share in the hope the centre would help revitalize the downtown.
City Council will be discussing the public feedback today, May 5, during its regular meeting.
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