UPDATE: City council approved spending $200,000 from its supplemental budget on Tuesday to hire a firm to create renderings to redesign the former Stuart Wood elementary as a cultural centre. The vote was 8-1 with only Coun. Denis Walsh opposed.
Multiple hurdles still need to be cleared as plans to transform the former Stuart Wood elementary in downtown Kamloops into a cultural centre proceed.
The City of Kamloops and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc continue to develop an operating agreement for the project, with the city needing the province to lift a condition of use on the property and city council to decide on Tuesday whether to spend $200,000 on design plans that will help secure grant funding.
“This is an important project for the both of us,” Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said during a community-to-community forum between the band and city on Monday.
Christian told KTW he is optimistic the agreement will be signed before the end of June, describing the document as “fairly lengthy” and detailed.
How the space will be allocated and how much money each partner will would put into the development are part of the discussions with the band, Christian said.
In 2018, Tk’emlups and the city completed a conceptual planning process that outlined what will be included in the building.
Christian said the facility is expected to feature history of the City of Kamloops, Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, the railroads and Hudson’s Bay Company, along with references to the Secwepemc language. Creating a garden outside the building featuring Indigenous plants is also planned.
The city is looking to fund as much of the project as possible through grants, Christian said.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in that building to repurpose it,” he said.
The city plans to move the Kamloops Museum and Archives into Stuart Wood and have retail opportunities for artisans. It has also already removed some outbuildings from the property and added fencing in anticipation of the project moving ahead.
The building has been owned by the City of Kamloops since 1906, but under the condition it be used exclusively as a school.
“We asked [the province] if this plan would constitute a school and they said no,” Christian said. “So what has to happen is we have to give the title back to the province, they have to then remove the codicil (condition of use) and consult with TTS and then reissue the title as a facility that could be used as a cultural site.”
Christian said he has heard from staff that the province is backlogged when it comes to nixing the codicil.
“Once we get a letter of understanding in place and once we get the title and all that, this is an opportunity to showcase the partnerships between the municipality and the local First Nation,” Christian said.