A new performing-arts centre was once again the subject of some heated questioning at Kamloops city council on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
During a year-end report from the city’s parks, recreation and cultural-services department, director Byron McCorkell said he hopes to have a conceptual plan ready by the end of 2014.
That had Coun. Nelly Dever questioning how staff would come up with the plan.
“I don’t want to end up where we were with the gateway plan, where we got a $24-million plan with almost no public input,” she said, referencing a beautification plan for the Tranquille-airport corridor that council declined to pursue last fall.
Dever told McCorkell she wants to see staff look at the current supply of performance spaces in the city and determine if there are ways to improve existing stock without spending much money.
She is also concerned a performing-arts centre will leave other venues standing empty.
McCorkell said that’s not a concern because demand for venue space is already well outpacing supply, noting the new centre will partially cater to acts that don’t have a venue that fits.
“The Interior Savings Centre is a great venue if you’re a big band,” he said. “If you’re Diana Krall, you’re never coming to Kamloops. She would if we had a performing-arts centre.”
The parks department is asking council to agree to spend $260,000 on studies for the new centre as part of this year’s supplementary budget.
McCorkell said he wants to follow the Tournament Capital model for the centre, with staff creating a business case and plan in consultation with arts groups in the community, then turning it over to the general public in a referendum.
Dever said if planning for the centre does move ahead, the city needs to look at what similar centres cost other communities, and how their tax bases compare to Kamloops’.