City councillor proposes new tax to raise money for new performing arts centre in Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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City councillor proposes new tax to raise money for new performing arts centre in Kelowna

Ryan Donn
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Facebook
October 28, 2019 - 11:45 AM

While there’s been some discussion in Kelowna about the location and design of a new performing arts centre, there’s one major hurdle to getting such a project going.

“We don’t have money... and this council has talked about ways of putting it into the 10 Year Capital Plan,” Councillor Ryan Donn told iNFOnews.ca. “I think one way to consider doing that is you add a Cultural Infrastructure Levy.”

Last year, council was confronted with a $477 million infrastructure deficit. That’s the money not available to do things like upgrade roads and build facilities like a new Parkinson Recreation Centre and parks.

While some of those costs are paid for by developers, the $477 million has to come from other sources – taxes, fees or senior governments. Developers will be hit with a charge of about $7,000 per housing unit next year to help pay to develop parks.

This year, the tax rate went up by an extra 2.27 per cent to start attacking that deficit. It’s expected to go up by about the same amount in 2020 but no further increases are proposed at this time.

“Perhaps, in a couple of years, we should be looking at adding one per cent for cultural facilities, because, about $100 million of our deficit is culture facilities,” Coun. Donn said.

The City has listed improvements to four downtown cultural buildings in its 10 Year Capital Plan, including $67.6 million for a new performing arts centre to be built between 2025 and 2027.

A report going to council today, Oct. 28, outlines two options for the new theatre, with the larger, 1,200-seat theatre estimated to cost about $62 million.

A one per cent tax hike will bring in about $2 million a year so, if it’s imposed, it would only cover some of the cost.

“If everyone is serious about wanting this theatre, we need to talk about how to get the money,” Coun. Donn said.

While cultural buildings make up about $100 million of the infrastructure deficit, that’s just the taxation part as some money is available from reserves and other sources.

The total projected to be spent on four buildings in the downtown cultural district is closer to $128 million.

Only one project is ranked as Priority 1, which is usually what is needed to get approval in the appropriate budget. That’s for a $4.5 million expansion of the Rotary Centre for the Arts but isn’t projected to be done until some time after 2028. Another $4.3 million is listed as Priority 2 for the centre, again for after 2028.

First up on the list is actually $1.8 million for the Kelowna Art Gallery in 2024-25 but again that’s ranked as Priority 2.

Another $49.6 million is earmarked for a new museum after 2028.


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