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Why supporters want you to vote ‘yes’ for a performing arts centre in Kamloops

Mayor Peter Milobar speaks at the YES Campaign launch.
Image Credit: YES Campaign/Facebook
November 03, 2015 - 9:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - A referendum into a proposed performing arts centre is only a few days away and its supporters want Kamloops residents to understand what it could mean to the community.

The city is actively advocating the building of an arts centre, even creating an ad campaign asking residents to ‘Imagine’ the possibilities. Mayor Peter Milobar has previously said he and city councillors are for the centre.

“The last time we worked on a major project like this was during the Tournament Capital project back in 2003. Certainly we saw very similar support groups come forward and realize this is about building for the future,” Milobar said. “This project is very important to the future of the City of Kamloops and to our growth overall as a city.”

The city’s business case explains the centre might come with a large price tag, but the economic and cultural benefits outweigh the costs. While debt repayment is expected to come to $4.6 million per year, the city expects a 240 per cent return on investment, or $11 million dollars seen annually.

Construction or capital projects mean jobs; a projected 76 jobs and a $101 million economic impact during the three years of construction. After the centre is complete, 64 jobs are expected to be created either directly associated with or as a result of the performing arts centre.

A group of predominately downtown associations and cultural groups launched what they called the YES campaign to encourage residents to vote for the performing arts centre in the Nov. 7 referendum. The committee includes members of the Kamloops Arts Gallery, Kamloops Film Society, Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, Western Canada Theatre Company, Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association and the Kamloops Arts Council

“It is our belief that this world class facility will not only have a positive economic impact within our community, but it will enhance many social aspects as well,” realtor Brendan Shaw, a spokesperson for the YES campaign, said during the campaign launch.

The campaign says an arts centre will benefit more than 70 community organizations in Kamloops, both arts and non-arts. Not only will it lend to Kamloops’ cultural experience, advocates claims, but a performing arts centre will facilitate more events, performances and even conferences. Milobar added the 1,200 seat theatre could be used also for convocations or graduation ceremonies as well.

Both the city’s business case and the YES campaign cite the tourism spinoffs of an arts centre, which include ticket sales, hotel stays and restaurant meals. Supporters also believe the centre could build on Kamloops’ reputation as a tourism destination.

The Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association believes a large centre downtown will encourage residential and commercial development.

The performing arts centre plan includes a 350-stall parkade and the association hopes with both extra parking and entertainment facilities the centre will rejuvenate the downtown core.

“Investing in the arts increases a city’s liveability, attracts entrepreneurship and entices professionals, including health care professionals, to relocate,” the Kamloops Arts Council says in a press release.

The council cites similar venues in cities like such as Vernon and Kelowna as examples of positive economic and tourist spinoffs.

The Nov. 7 referendum will ask residents if they are in favour of borrowing $49 million to build a performing arts centre. The proposed centre is a $90 million dollar project, with $25 million of that going towards a parkade. If built, it will be located at 393 Seymour St., the former Kamloops Daily News site.

If built, it will be financed through a one percent increase in property taxes in 2016 and an additional one per cent in 2017, which translates into roughly $40 dollars per household, per year for 20 years.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dana Reynolds at dreynolds@infonews.ca or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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