Kamloops looking for interested contractors for proposed $120M performing arts centre | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops looking for interested contractors for proposed $120M performing arts centre

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/CHP Architects

The wheels are turning as the City of Kamloops moves ahead with plans on the proposed performing arts centre.

The city issued a call for interested builders and designers as it prepares to issue contracts for the long-awaited and controversial project.

Contractors can't bid on the work yet. Instead the City is holding an information session for any that may be interested, according to City "advance notice" documents. 

However, those same documents lay out a timeline for the project, which suggests an official call for a general contractor should be coming later this month, with a decision to be made in August.

READ MORE: Kamloops council agrees to spend $7M on new arts centre but not without infighting

Despite this timeline, and vocal support from mayor and council to see the project through, there has been no official approval for construction of the facility that was most recently estimated to cost around $120 million.

In February, council did approve $7 million to go toward a detailed design and more accurate cost estimate, the latter of which will help the City qualify for grants from higher levels of government.

According to the notice to contractors, the City expects to choose a designer by November and builders in January 2025.

Once those contractors are chosen, detailed design work is expected to take 11 months, beginning in July 2025. There is no timeline for the rest of the work, including when shovels will hit the ground on the downtown arts centre.

The project has been in the works for years, with a refusal from voters first in 2015.

READ MORE: Cost of new Kamloops arts centre has almost doubled to $120M

That referendum, which was denied with a 53.7 per cent vote, sought to borrow up to $49 million to build the arts building at the site of the former Kamloops Daily News building. Just a third of eligible voters cast a ballot in the referendum.

The Daily News building, at the corner of Seymour Street and 4 Avenue, was torn down two years later. It's remained a City-run parking lot ever since.

In 2020, another push to build out the 20,000 square-foot theatre space came to a halt when a second referendum, this time over a $70 million loan, was derailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the past five years the effort has been led, in part, by local philanthropists Ron and Rae Fawcett, who were involved in designing a new concept for the facility and donated their own funds to the cause.

Council has not committed to another referendum for the project, but it may need to in the likely event that the City must take out a loan in order to fund its construction.

The current design includes two theatre spaces, one with 1,100 seats and the second with 450 seats. It would also include a cafe, rehearsal halls and a two-floor underground parking garage, along with commercial space, according to the City project documents.

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