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No options offered for Kelowna performing arts centre that won’t negatively impact theatre current users

Kelowna Community Theatre
October 28, 2019 - 4:40 PM

Building a new Kelowna Community Theatre in a nearby parking lot is simply not an option, city council was told today.

The land where the theatre currently sits, along with some additional land that will be added from the old RCMP site on Doyle Avenue, is almost 1.5 acres.

A report that went to council today explained that there is plenty of room on the current site for not only a 1,200 seat theatre but with enough room to make it world-class, not only for audiences but for user groups.

The Kelowna Legacy Group has proposed the theatre be built in the City Hall parking lot in order not to disrupt users. That parking lot is only one acre and too small.

Council was told that, when the time comes, it will take about a year to design a new theatre and two years to build it.

In response to a question by Councillor Ryan Donn, council was told by city staff that in other communities where a new theatre is built on the same site as an older one, there is a search to find other facilities in the region that can accommodate existing user groups. Some have gone so far as performing in tents during the construction phase.

Some groups have expressed concern that a shut down of the theatre might mean the end of the organizations.

Council also addressed concerns that the process was being rushed since a call for proposals to develop the rest of the former RCMP detachment site has already gone out and is now closed.

“This discussion started three years ago,” councillor Sieben said. “I had some trepidation at the time about the Civic Precinct Plan. To staff’s credit, they paused and got more input. There were many opportunities in the past for input.”

The report was simply received by council today, Oct. 28.

Next week a report is coming to council on what is being termed as a cultural hub, a 6,000 square foot public space that will be built by the developers of the former RCMP site. That report will be followed by the naming of a suitable developer.

Johannes Saufferer, the city’s director of strategic investments, told council there are a number of proposals that meet the strict requirements set in the proposal call.

He will take all proposals to an in camera meeting of council in November with the winning applicant announced in January.

The developer will have to pay $6.5 million for an 80-year lease on the land, build an Art Walk and the cultural hub for $4.1 million, leaving $2.4 million that could be used for other things, possibly going towards the estimated $62 million cost of a new theatre.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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