New Kelowna performing arts centre pushed years into the future | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New Kelowna performing arts centre pushed years into the future


A replacement for the Kelowna Community Theatre, which was tentatively scheduled to be built in 2025, may not happen until 2030 or later.

The theatre turns 60 next year and does need to be replaced but the funding has not been put in place in the city’s capital plan, just a “placeholder” for 2025. There’s never been any money earmarked for the project.

“The next important conversation will be about the capital plan and trying to determine, in view all the other infrastructure demands the city is facing, what the potential time line might be,” Sandra Kochan, the city’s partnership manager, told council yesterday, Nov. 22.

“In this snapshot we could be looking at the 2028, 2029, 2030 period by the time the level of borrowing is available to us.”

READ MORE: New group pushing Kelowna to build new performing arts centre within next five years

The city, first of all, needs to borrow money to replace the Parkinson Recreation Centre. That’s budgeted at $134 million with work projected to start next year.

A 2018 study done by Colliers looked at three theatre sizes, with a 1,200 seat facility projected to cost about $62 million in 2018 dollars. That estimate has been updated to $75.26 million in a new report that was presented to council yesterday.

Kochan stressed the need for the city to commit to the project before discussions go ahead as to size, design or funding for the project.

Council was told that grants from senior governments for cultural projects were rare and very hard to get.

The best way to gauge public support would be through a referendum, Carly Frey with Colliers told council.

“Consent voting is the preferred approach, often, to the alternative approval process as a referendum can allow for that meaningful engagement of project supporters,” she said. “It can also open doors to multiple levels of philanthropic giving and allow for the airing of viewpoints and testing of broader community support.”

City funding would only be a part of the process as a community fundraising effort could greatly reduce the tax impact, Jeff Sodowsky from Colliers told council

“If you are able to find a $10 million lead gift then you’re talking about a campaign that could generate in excess of $30 million, which would be a significant assistance to funding such a project,” Sodowsky said.

Still to be determined is how the fundraising organization would be structured.

If the city is going to operate the theatre, as it does now, then a fundraising group that works through an established charitable organization might be the best bet, Sodowsky suggested.

A good example of that was the Okanagan Rail Trail that worked with groups like the Central Okanagan Foundation since the foundation was able to issue tax receipts and is a reputable existing charity.

Another alternative would be to create a completely new charity. That could take two years to set up and would only make sense if it was going to have an ongoing relationship with the performing arts centre, such as annual fundraising.

There has also been concerns raised by the performing arts community about losing the use of Kelowna Community Theatre for two or three years while the old building is demolished and a new one built.

Sodowsky suggested alternative venues — such as upgrading the Island Stage in Waterfront Park — could be upgraded and continue to be used long after the new theatre is built.

READ MORE: Kamloops performing arts centre price tag estimated $20 million higher

He also showed a photo of the band shell that was set up on Sunset Beach in Vancouver for a Symphony at Sunset performance.

The new creative hub in the building on the old RCMP site next to the theatre could be adapted for performances, as could arenas, parkades, empty storefronts or even swimming pools, Sodowsky said.

He also noted theatre users could schedule smaller scale productions during the construction phase and save the bigger events for after the new theatre opens. They need a year's notice in order to be able to make those plans.

But first, in 2022, there needs to be a commitment from the city that a new performing arts centre will be partly funded by the city, Kochan said. From there, the conversations about size, design and management would follow.

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