KAMLOOPS - The future of the former Kamloops Daily News building is looking flatter.
Council voted today, April 25, to invest $30,000 into looking at how to knock down the building, with another $20,000 set aside to prepare an estimate on a new parking lot on that property. It passed with a five to one vote.
“I think the building needs a funeral,” said Coun. Pat Wallace. “The sooner the better.”
The decision doesn’t necessarily mean the end for the former department store; once the estimates are in, council will have to give the go ahead on the actual demolition, leaving some wiggle room.
“It’s an excellent site for redevelopment,” city development director Marvin Kwiatkowski told council. “We’re open in the future to see what the best uses are.”
A number of citizens also attended today’s meeting. Kamloops Central Business Improvement president Mike O’Reilly spoke in favour of the parking lot, saying there’s a need for new parking spaces because 114 are being lost due to new developments downtown.
Coun. Denis Walsh was the only councillor to speak against the motion, suggesting demolition be delayed.
“I totally disagree with (the perception) that there's need for more employee parking downtown,” he said. “I don’t see the crisis that people are talking about.”
Other residents took the chance to voice displeasure with the decision to put in another downtown parking lot. Bruce Thompson of the Downtown Neighbourhood Association spoke in favour of a new, cheaper performing arts centre.
“The main reason for the defeat of that was the cost factor,” he told councillors. “In discussion with an architect we were told the existing building could be retrofitted that would enable the cost to be brought down substantially.”
The previous performing arts centre plan, estimated to cost more than $90 million, was defeated by referendum in November 2015. The neighbourhood association brought forth the cheaper idea in January this year, after requests for proposals were already in and negotiations of other ideas were happening between the city and private groups.
A parking lot was one of the original ideas for the lot when the city bought the property in 2014.
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