A referendum date requesting voter approval to borrow funds for a performing-arts centre could be shored up on Tuesday, Nov 19.
Kamloops city council will select one of two Saturdays — March 28 or April 4 — as recommended by staff based on legislative timelines, staff resources and how the time of year might affect voter turnout, a report to council states.
The proposed yes-no question is: “Are you in favour of the City of Kamloops borrowing up to $45 million to construct a Kamloops Centre for the Arts?”
Once the date and question are solidified, next steps include appointing a chief election officer and deputy chief election officer, likely in early December, and notifying the province.
Kamloops Centre for the Arts is proposed to rise at the former Kamloops Daily News location downtown at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Seymour Street. The proposal is being organized by the Kamloops Centre for the Arts Society, with a land donation and financial backing from local philanthropists and businesspeople Ron and Rae Fawcett.
The $70-million centre would include a main theatre (1,200 seats), a small theatre (450 seats) and a black box theatre (75 seats), along with space for rehearsal, production, educational, meeting and commercial opportunities.
The society hopes to secure between $25 million and $40 million in fundraising and grant funding, leaving the city on the hook for between $30 million and $45 million in capital costs. The city said it would not need to increase taxes as a result of the Tournament Capital Centre being nearly paid off. It would, however, be on the hook for operating costs, similar to other facilities like the Westsyde Pool, Sandman Centre or Tournament Capital Centre, and $3 million in site servicing for underground utility work.
A previous proposal to borrow up to $49 million for a $91-million performing-arts centre failed in 2015 by referendum, 54 per cent to 46 per cent. If next spring’s referendum question gets the nod from voters next spring, construction could begin in the summer of 2021, with the arts centre completed by the spring of 2023 for a fall 2023 opening.
In addition to selecting the referendum date and question on Tuesday, council will review a $35,000 communications plan to support the project and referendum process. The plan is proposed to be funded from council’s contingency budget.