DECISION 2018: Performing Arts Centre

By Jill Sperling
October 12, 2018 - 4:29pm Updated: October 12, 2018 - 6:30pm

KAMLOOPS — On Nov. 7, 2015 Kamloops residents rejected a proposal for a performing arts centre and parkade complex when they cast ballots in a referendum. 

The 'no' side won by a narrow margin and many community members were left feeling disappointed in the result. 

Fast forward to last year, the site that had been selected in the original proposal was converted into a parking lot, a council decision that outraged much of the arts community. 

Incumbent mayoral candidate Ken Christian served as a city councilor during these decisions and tells us his stance on bringing a performing arts centre to the city in the future in the second installment of our mayor's series. 

In 2015, Kamloops' arts community was eagerly awaiting the results of a referendum on a performing arts centre. But, when the votes were counted, the answer was no. 

"You know, the performing arts centre was a proposal that I supported at the time," Christian said, "but I respect the fact that the rest of the tax payers didn't, so that is off the books."

The proposal would have required the city to borrow $49 million for construction, a price tag that was too high for 54 per cent of the voters. 

If re-elected, Christian says any future proposal would have to come from the arts community itself. 

"It's really up to them to decide what the right size for a performance venue is and what the right elements for that venue include,"  Christian said. "Then, once they've decided that and agreed upon that among the major players then come to the City of Kamloops and we can look about what kind of property inventories do we have and what kind of taxation opportunities are there, what kind of borrowing we could do." 

Christian says he's open to those discussions, adding he has already met with the CEOs and board chairs for Western Canada Theatre, the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and the Art Gallery to discuss a modified proposal. 

"I left that challenge with them and I am hopeful they will be able to find private sector donors as well as a shared vision that we could put back before the citizens of Kamloops."

Christian says a performing arts centre is the one element of livability that is missing in Kamloops. 

"Let's just wait and let that unfold, but certainly I'm alive to the notion and I would welcome the opportunity to champion an idea that has broad community support." 

CFJC Today reached out to Christian's challenger, William Turnbull, to discuss his viewpoint on a range of election issues. He declined to participate in this series.

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