Kamloops News

Formal opposition to performing arts centre in Kamloops

KAMLOOPS - With less than three weeks before the referendum that will decide whether a performing arts centre moves forward in Kamloops, a new opposition campaign has formed in the hope of stimulating a strong debate around the project.

Nelly Dever, former city councillor and spokesperson for the group called ‘PAC Not Yet,' says this isn’t a debate about whether to support the arts, it’s a debate about a large publically funded project.

“A lot of people are really concerned about the increase in taxes, the public debt, and believe more can be done to minimize costs of this project,” she says.

The committee cites a lack of funding from the private sector and different levels of government, a lack of fundraising and a significant amount of funding from Gaming and Gas Tax reserves as the group’s main concerns.

“We’re not saying no to a future performing arts centre, we’re saying this project needs to be improved upon. There are too many unanswered questions for tax payers to support this project,” Dever says.

Mayor Peter Milobar previously said he and fellow city councillors support building a performing arts centre. Recently, members of local businesses and associations, including the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, created the ‘YES’ campaign to encourage citizens to vote for the project. Many other associations have also publically supported of the project as well.

While the city has put aside a fund for a ‘NO’ campaign group to utilize, Dever says PAC Not Yet is completely privately funded. 

A referendum will take place Nov. 7 where it will ask residents it they are in favour of acquiring $45 million worth of debt to build a performing arts centre. The referendum itself is expected to cost $160,000.

The centre is proposed to be built on the site of the former Kamloops Daily News at a total cost of $90 million, with $25 million of that slated for a parkade. The project will be funded with a two per cent tax hike over the course of two years, which translates roughly to $40 per household, per year, for 20 years.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dana Reynolds at dreynolds@infonews.ca or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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