Proposed performing-arts centre would rise next to Telus building in downtown Kamloops

It is unclear whether the proposal will include one larger 1,000-plus seat theatre or feature multiple smaller theatres

A brick building immediately next to the Telus building in the 300-block of St. Paul Street is believed to be the location of a performing-arts centre (PAC) proposal from a local philanthropist, which is headed to city council on Tuesday.

It is unclear whether the proposal will include one larger 1,000-plus seat theatre or feature multiple smaller theatres. The original PAC proposal was for a 1,200-seat venue and a 35-seat black box threatre, along with a two-level parkade. A donation of money and land could also be in the works.

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Ron Fawcett is appearing as a delegate during council’s regular meeting to discuss “Kamloops Performing Arts Centre/A Vision of the Future,” where he is expected to present a donation and land for a PAC.

City of Kamloops CAO David Trawin said a group asked about a year ago where the city was at with the performing arts centre.

“We said, ‘Nowhere,’” Trawin said. “After the referendum, as far as I’m concerned, council didn’t give me any direction to move forward. The referendum kind of ended it.”

In the 2015 referendum, Kamloops residents rejected a proposed $91-million performing-arts centre and parkade that would have risen on the former Kamloops Daily News property, at the corner of Seymour Street and Fourth Avenue. The Fawcetts, who own The Kelson Group, had also pledged to $5 million toward the PAC if voters had approved the proposal.

The city purchased the land from Glacier Media for $4.8 million after the newspaper closed tin 2014.

When asked about reviving the performing-arts centre last year, Trawin said no city money was available. Fawcett apparently spent his own money to review the business case and layout.

Telus building aerial
The spot marked in red is where a performing-arts centre would rise if a proposal by Kamloops philantropist Ron Fawcett comes to fruition

KTW is awaiting a return call from the philanthropist, who along with wife, Rae, has previously donated large sums of money to Thompson Rivers University, the B.C. Wildlife Park and Royal Inland Hospital.

“We said you’re welcome to the plans, you’re welcome to the business case,” Trawin said. “You know, if you can find flaws in it or if you can verify it, whatever. That’s up to you. He went through that. We did work with him a little bit in terms of explaining things, rationale and stuff.”

Trawin said Fawcett came up with a “scenario” — one that will not become public until Tuesday, when layout, artist renderings and costing is expected during Fawcett’s presentation.

The Fawcett delegation comes in advance of council’s strategic planning sessions, which will occur later this week. The mayor has said resurrection of a PAC would have to come from the community and be a joint proposal among arts groups.

Kamloops Symphony Orchestra executive director Kathy Humphreys said a PAC has been a “long time” coming in Kamloops.

“We’re really, really excited and positive about the prospect of moving forward on the project again and expect really the time has come for Kamloops to go ahead with a new performance venue,” she said.

Humphreys said Sagebrush Theatre is overbooked, unavailable and insufficient size-wise for some events that overlook stops in Kamloops.

“It’s one of the things I think that’s really holding the community back,” she said.

Amplify Consulting will hold a press briefing following Tuesday’s presentation at council, with Robert Hamilton of DWD Theatre Design and Justice Dyck and Leon Schroeder of CHP Architects there to explain the proposal.

© Kamloops This Week

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