Kamloops society pushing for $70 million performing arts centre says plans are off 'indefinitely' - InfoNews

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Kamloops society pushing for $70 million performing arts centre says plans are off 'indefinitely'

FILE PHOTO - A photo of a handout depicting a rendering of a proposed performing arts centre in downtown Kamloops distributed at the Jan. 8, 2019 city council meeting.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/CHP Architects
April 29, 2020 - 1:00 PM

The society pushing for the Performing Arts Centre in Kamloops is putting their mission on hold for the foreseeable future.

Norm Daley, president of the Kamloops Centre for the Art Society, says they will not be pushing the city to run a referendum any time soon.

“I just don’t see how we can have a vote right now. There’s too much uncertainty within the world and I think it has been postponed, as far as I’m concerned, indefinitely,” Daley said. “It’s totally unpredictable. I guess if we have a cure for COVID-19 tomorrow, it might change our timeline, however, it doesn’t appear that that is any time soon.”

The referendum was approved by city council and planned for April 4 but cancelled due to the pandemic. The society had been at work since last summer to promote the project which could have seen a $70 million, triple theatre facility built in the heart of downtown.

Daley says the society, which had worked to promote the proposal through public education sessions and initiatives, is now having discussions once a month about the situation.

“We’re kind of idling…  The focus of that committee, it was basically a single purpose,” Daley says. “I think we have to let this pandemic play out, and at that point we can pause, reflect, and discuss how we would like to move forward in the future.”

The decision is a blow to the society and those who supported the project, which could have broken ground as early as next spring. A proposal for a performing arts centre in Kamloops was downvoted in 2015, and Daley says they were hopeful that the April 4 referendum would have brought better results.

“We had very positive momentum, I felt we had done a very good job at engaging the community and explaining the project… There’s obviously some disappointment, but it obviously has to be tempered by what's going on in the world,” Daley says.

The society had sold $2 memberships to residents who wanted to show their support, but no donations were taken, Daley says. He believes the economic downturn because of the pandemic is too great to continue pushing for approval for the city to take out the necessary loans.

“I don’t think that it's the time to discuss this project, I think there are a lot more pressing matters with the city and both provincially and federally that need to be dealt with and worry about at this time.”

For past stories on the performing arts centre, click here.

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