Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is throwing its weight behind the proposed Kamloops Centre for the Arts.
On Monday, the chamber came out publicly in support of the project, sending a letter of support to Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian.
Chamber president Joshua Knaak said one of the biggest issues he has heard from members is that of recruiting good labour, an issue he said has been ongoing for some time and increasingly significant.
The Chamber’s letter of support notes the arts centre would be an attraction for downtown, the city and region.
“When we look at a project like the performing-arts centre, what we see is something that really enhances the livability of Kamloops,” Knaak said.
He said that livability component plays into whether or not skilled labour looks to move to one city or another, with communities like Kelowna offering up such facilities.
The chamber’s letter of support also notes economic impacts of the project, including 565 full-time jobs that will be created during construction, $2.9 million in economic spinoffs annually and 31 ongoing direct or indirect jobs will come from the project. The chamber’s letter also points to the business case showing a need for the facility and demonstrating fiscal responsibility.
“Our support of the Kamloops Centre for the Arts project requires that it be designed, constructed and operated in a fiscally responsible manner,” the letter states.
“As business owners and operators, our members make decisions every day to ensure their funds are utilized as efficiently as possible. We believe that taxpayer-funded organizations must demonstrate the same manner of prudence. We firmly believe the Kamloops Centre for the Arts business case strongly demonstrates this level of prudence. “
The chamber is calling on members and residents to vote “yes” in the April 4 referendum to authorizing the city to borrow up to $45 million to build the $70-million facility, with the remaining money coming from fundraising and grants from senior levels of government.
“This is a strong proposal with good private backing,” Knaak said.
Kamloops Centre for the Arts is proposed for Fifth Avenue and Seymour Street downtown. It will include three theatres and a large lobby space and be utilized by arts and culture groups and the community at large.