Local government agencies are planning to relocate their meetings to the Valley First Lounge in Sandman Centre.
The City of Kamloops and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District plan to utilize the city-owned facility, which is typically reserved for sizeable public hearings. The lounge in the arena is available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a ban on large gatherings of people.
The lounge, at 4,150 square feet, is much larger than regular meeting spaces used by Kamloops council and the TNRD board and allows for physical distancing during the global novel coronavirus outbreak.
Meetings would continue to be limited to 50 people, due to a ministerial order by the province to limit gatherings to curb spread of the virus.
The city and regional district have thus far met digitally during the pandemic. The city has had a limited number of councillors in council chambers and the public and media have tuned in digitally, via livestream. The media and public were recently allowed to return to committee meetings in council chambers, though those meetings do not typically draw many people.
Meanwhile, the regional district last week met at the Delta Hotel in downtown Kamloops, during which the media and public were able to attend for the first time in months, with space a bit tight.
It will cost the city between $15,000 to $25,000 to outfit Valley First Lounge with equipment to livestream meetings. The plan is to have the room ready for the July 14 council meeting, at which time it will have been four months since an in-person council meeting has been held, with the last one taking place on March 10.
The city also considered Sport Mart Lounge at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre, but determined the technology and access at Sandman Centre to be more suitable. Emergency personnel — in place to monitor possible flooding this spring and summer — have been utilizing the space, but the city said they can be moved.
The Kamloops-Thompson school district and Tk’emlups te Secwépemec were also invited to participate in use of the space. Council will discuss the new meeting location at its Tuesday meeting, which will be streamed live from council chambers at city hall.