In the Kamloops Centre for the Arts Society’s latest update to city council, it noted it had signed up nearly 5,000 members and continues to engage with the community.
Society president Norm Daley told council the group has and continues to meet with community associations around the project in advance of the April 4 referendum, when Kamloops voters will be asked to approve the city’s borrowing of up to $45 million to build the centre downtown at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Seymour Street.
The society has also spoken with residents at a recent Kamloops Blazers game and plans to participate in next week’s city engagement sessions, which will take place at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre in North Kamloops on Feb. 12 (6:30 p.m. start) and at Sandman Centre downtown on Feb. 13 (6 p.m. start).
Daley said the overarching feedback he has heard from residents is “build it.”
Primary concerns, meanwhile, include parking, the fact some people will not use the centre, the need for a solid business case and results from the previous 2015 referendum, when residents rejected — by a vote of 54 to 46 per cent — a referendum question that asked them to authorize the city to borrow up to $49 million to build a performing-arts centre.
Daley said residents understand that children in Kamloops have the best sports facilities.
“It’s time for the arts,” he said. “We want to dream.”
City council also heard a presentation on the project from city staff, with some notable tidbits including:
• Lobbying for the lobby: One area of the proposed Kamloops Centre for the Arts that has yet to be emphasized is the lobby area, according to the city’s culture manager.
Barb Berger told council last week that 9,000 square feet of the 103,000 square-foot-centre is the lobby.
“This brings a huge opportunity for really diverse kinds of activities that can be celebrated in that lobby,” Berger said, calling it an amenity.
“That’s a big space and it goes well beyond what’s happening inside each one of those theatres.”
• Sagebrush Theatre will remain an “important” facility: The city said Sagebrush Theatre will continue to be a “very important part of the cultural facilities” in Kamloops. City community and protective services director Byron McCorkell told council that School District 73 is “chomping for more space” and smaller groups need venue space. The facility, which has for years been the city’s hub for theatre and other performances, is owned by the school district. The theatre closed from February to October last year due to a damaged roof truss.
• No plan B: Similar to the 2015 referendum, the city has no plan B should Kamloops residents reject borrowing of funds to build the proposed arts centre.
“Right now, we’ve got a proposal that is being considered,” McCorkell said. “It has community support and now we’re looking for the rest of the community to come on board on that conversation, as well. If it is yes, we don’t need a plan B. If it is no, then we’ll talk about that later.”
Daley said a public “get out the vote campaign” will commence on March 4, culminating in a Brewloops-style event on March 28 prior to the April 4 general voting day. Advance voting will take place on March 25 and April 1 at Heritage House, in Riverside Park at 100 Lorne St.