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Will higher building standards affect the Performing Arts Centre?

A photo of a handout depicting a rendering of a new performing arts centre in downtown Kamloops distributed at the Jan. 8, 2019 city council meeting.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/CHP Architects
November 08, 2019 - 4:00 PM

Residents of Kamloops are buzzing about the possibility of a massive new Performing Arts Centre in the downtown core. A referendum is set to happen in the new year and councillors have discussed how voters must be informed when it comes time to vote, but it seems sustainability is a factor we might not get answers on.

In the city of Kamloops 2013 Corporate Energy and Emissions Plan, a key objective is to construct new municipal buildings to a LEED gold standard. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a globally recognized green building certification. Some buildings, such as the Tournament Capital Centre, the McArthur Island Sports Centre and the Kamloops Centre for Water Quality are LEED certified.

Jason Locke, community planning and sustainability manager with the City of Kamloops, says voters likely won’t have a solid answer on the sustainability of the building, noting that topic would be looked at after the votes are already in.

“Regarding whether the building will be LEED or not… this is something that will be discussed with the applicant when they get further along in the design stages,” Locke says. “There’s a referendum, so whether the project happens or not remains to be determined. The actual design of the building itself in terms of the energy and sustainability side, the design concepts are just conceptual at this point… it’s still in the very, very early stages, the actual project hasn’t even been approved yet.”

Ron Fawcett, president of the Kelson Group Property Management, has been spearheading the push for the Performing Arts Centre, and he says LEED certification is too costly and time consuming to pursue.

“In our own personal buildings, the cost of getting (LEED) just makes it so onerous so we do everything that is required but we don’t get their certification,” Fawcett says. “It’s so difficult to do that we just don’t bother doing it.”

Fawcett says it is a costly and lengthy process and notes that many builders don’t like to follow such procedures.

“One of the main problems is as you’re progressing through it is you have to get the certifications and all the inspections, and they are expensive as well as difficult to get,” Fawcett says. “It certainly complicates the construction of the building and the minute you do that, the costs go up and you’re really not gaining anything.”

Fawcett says that the city or the taxpayers would be responsible for covering the additional funds that are necessary for LEED certification. If approved by referendum, it remains unclear how the LEED pursuit would impact the overall price or even reduce amenities to meet the standard.

Committing to a LEED certification would benefit the city in terms of receiving grants for this project, a crucial funding method for the city’s $45 million commitment, according to Marvin Kwiatkowski, City of Kamloops development, engineering and sustainability director. He highlighted the importance of the LEED certification during the Nov. 5 city council meeting where they voted in favour of the project and a public referendum.

“With grant applications, a very high standard is needed to be achieved... so I’m very confident in saying we need to achieve a really high standard,” Kwiatkowski says.

It is unclear if voters will have information on whether or not the Performing Arts Centre will be built to LEED standards. For more stories on the performing Arts Centre, go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 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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