City looking at financial options following revamped PAC pitch

One point of opposition already circulating online following the unveiling of a new proposal for a downtown performing arts centre relates to residents rejecting the PAC in 2015.

The referendum in 2015 failed 54 per cent to 46 per cent. The referendum, however, was to borrow $49 million to help pay for the $91-million facility — not for a PAC itself, which the city and user groups maintain is still needed.

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“The referendums are all about the debt,” City of Kamloops corporate services director Kathy Humphrey said.

As per the Community Charter, municipalities are required to seek public approval for liabilities extending past five years. Any borrowing by the city for a future PAC beyond that timeframe would also require public approval.

That could happen again via referendum or through counter-petition. The ladder essentially means the city moves forward, but residents could create a counter-petition and, with 10 per cent support of the electorate within 30 days, could stop the city from lending the money. Such was the case when a parkade was rejected at Riverside Park in 2011.

“It’s just the statue because it does put the city in a liability generally outside the term of a council,” City of Kamloops CAO David Trawin said.

“Any borrowing we do, any long-term borrowing we do, you’ll see a notice in the paper: ‘City intends to borrow $15 million for this, this, this.’ Typically, everything’s done through counter-petition. … Typically we don’t even get close.”

If a counter-petition was successful, council could still call a referendum.

Asked how the city could pay for a PAC, Humphrey said it is too early to say, due to the fact council is still determining the fate of the project.

“If council decides they want that in their strategic plan, we will jump on it and go full on trying to make it work,” she said.

Humphrey noted, however, the city’s debt will be reduced in the next four to six years, with $1 million to $2 million in annual debt repayments ending, including for the Tournament Capital Centre.

Hypothetically, the city could roll over those payments into the PAC. Trawin likened that scenario to paying off a vehicle before buying a boat.

“Basically, it doesn’t cost me anything extra,” he said.

Other options could include: raising taxes, leasing the building, provincial and federal grants, sponsorships or Pavilion Theatre reserves.

“There’s various ways we could pay for it outside of taxes,” Trawin said. “Taxes is one way, but there are various ways that could potentially fund it depending on how much and what the governance model and ownership model of it looked like.”

Not yet in 2015, but now?

The Performing Arts Centre Not Yet group led by former councillor Nelly Dever during the 2015 referendum appears to have no opposition to the new proposal — at least not yet.

Refusing a phone interview, Dever provided the following email statement regarding the new PAC pitch:

“As a taxpayer and business owner, I’m really interested in seeing the details and true costs roll out and made public,” she said. “If properly executed, there’s an extraordinary opportunity.”

According to its elections filings, the group in 2015 raised about $10,000, which was mainly spent on printed mailouts. The group mailed brochures to most homes in Kamloops, arguing the city should come up with a cheaper design for the centre and look at other funding options. The previous plan was more than $20 million more than the current proposal.

KTW reached out to those who contributed financially to the Performing Arts Centre Not Yet group.

Kamloops lawyer Mary MacGregor was among top donors, contributing $1,500.

She said she would not contribute financially this time around.

MacGregor told KTW she supported Nelly Dever in 2015 because Dever was her and her significant other’s personal trainer.

She said Dever worked “relentlessly” on her partner’s health and wellbeing. Dever owns Nelly’s Executive Fitness in downtown Kamloops.

“I was actually never against it,” MacGregor said.

In fact, MacGregor said she thought the proposal should have been bigger and grander. She is in favour of the new proposal presented by Ron Fawcett on Tuesday and called it “well thought out.” She said she would even go so far as to donate to the cause.

“I will be on the yes side,” MacGregor said.

Other donors to the Performing Arts Centre Not Yet group included: Red Apple Holding Inc. ($2,500), Lynda Johnston ($1,500), Gjemes Management Inc. ($1,148.64), Canadian Tire owner Jack Jusola ($1,000) and Domtar ($500).

© Kamloops This Week


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