KAMLOOPS - The referendum that will ultimately decide whether Kamloops moves forward with the proposed $90-million performing arts centre begins with advance polls this week.
“Are you in favour of the City of Kamloops borrowing up to $49 million to design and construct the parkade and performing arts centre complex?” Residents will be asked at the polls.
City council have already come out in favour of a centre and the city’s ‘Imagine’ campaign is actively lobbying support for the project, along with several other groups. Just one group is actively lobbying for a 'No' vote on the referendum.
Realizing some people need more answers before they can make a decision, the city is planning two information sessions for Nov. 4 — after the advance polls, which run Oct. 28 and Nov. 2, but before the official voting day of Nov. 7.
Groups supporting a new centre note a lack of stage space — the Sagebrush Theatre is completely booked — and claim the city misses out on certain performances because of a lack of quality facilities. A revitalization of the downtown core, attracting tourists to town and the economic spin off of both are also noted as benefits of a new arts centre.
This project, which will see the former Kamloops Daily News building on Seymour Street transformed, is estimated to cost about $90 million. The parkade accounts for $25 million of that cost, but the projects are considered inseparable at this point.
This is one of the most expensive construction project in Kamloops to date. By comparison, the new Clinical Services Building at Royal Inland Hospital is projected at roughly $80 million. The Tournament Capital Centre, which included the existing Canada Games Pool, cost roughly $23 million and was part of the city’s $48-million investment in sports facilities.
The city can fund roughly half of the project with money from reserves, federal government grants and naming rights to the new centre. The city will have to take on the remaining $49 million as debt, and that portion is what residents are being asked to vote on.
That loan will be paid off by a combination of revenues from on-street parking, money from Gaming and Community Works funds and a property tax increase, if residents vote 'Yes' during the referendum.
If approved, each year taxpayers will be on the hook for $3.68 million in debt repayments, with roughly $1.2 million of this being interest alone. Add this to the $900,000 it’s expected to operate the centre and the yearly payment comes to roughly $4.6 million. This translates into to almost $40 extra in taxes, per household, per year for the next twenty years.
According to the business case the performing arts centre is expected to generate $11 million annually. This means of the $4.6 million paid every year in debt servicing, Kamloops is expected to see a 240 per cent return on investment.
These numbers are based on best practices, which is an industry accepted process of collecting data from similar construction projects, in similar cities and using those numbers to project costs or spin-offs of your own.
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