Kamloops council reluctantly approves last-minute Memorial Cup spending | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops council reluctantly approves last-minute Memorial Cup spending


Kamloops city council grilled staff before approving a last-minute budget boost for Memorial Cup arena upgrades.

Council will spend up to $100,000 for a temporary scaffolding platform to accommodate Canadian Hockey League officials and TSN broadcasters, but they weren't happy about it as staff.

"Why is this just coming to us now?" Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson asked staff.

Byron McCorkell, community and protective services director for the city, originally asked council for $200,000.

"We had our original plan. We've evolved and we've been looking at the building from a perspective of how this will be most successful," McCorkell said. "At the end of the day we're hosting an event that's bringing $10 million to Kamloops."

The staff report didn't clearly explain whether it was city staff deciding Sandman Centre needs a temporary platform or whether it was the CHL and TSN coming with a late request, but McCorkell told council it was a staff decision.

There isn't enough "wiggle room" left in the $940,000 budget for arena improvements. It's not clear whether staff always planned to include the scaffolding platform and realized they couldn't afford it, or whether it was a late addition to the project entirely.

"There's no more money in the jar. So that then led to a very awkward conversation in a meeting about a week ago where we asked, 'What are we going to do?' The only thing I could do is to come to you and tell you we've got a problem," McCorkell said. "It came to me to come to you to say we've got a problem. Is council interested in participating in a solution?"

The nearly $1 million for renovations was largely used for broadcasting equipment and it would have been spent anyway. Another $120,000 was used to rent a dehumidifier, which the CHL required for the tournament.

Councillor Bill Sarai was concerned about the spending because it will be used mainly for TSN broadcasters, CHL executives and sponsorship suites, rather than the general public. Then the platform will be removed when the tournament is over.

"I have to be respectful of our citizens when I say it's going to be up for 10 days, you spent $200,000, but not one of these things is going to benefit any of the residents here," Sarai said. "I just don't know which way to go here. I'm getting squeezed in a vice here."

Councillors asked about the scaffolding used for the Scotties Tournament earlier this year, which was a cheaper option. McCorkell explained it would remove some useable seats and create "flow problems" because it blocked walking space along the east end of the concourse.

The public was not given a report detailing what the scaffolding would look like, but councillors were provided with a diagram that included designs for the temporary installation.

Although councillors weren't pleased with the last-minute spending, they reluctantly agreed to spend money on the scaffolding platform, which will include the broadcast platform and private suites above the concourse.

Council agreed to spend 50% of the construction costs up to $100,000.

iNFOnews.ca reached out to the CHL, but did not recieve a response in time for publication.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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