Big-ticket arts centre study gets most talk at input meeting

Residents crowd around parks and rec table at public meting.

Residents crowd around parks and rec table at public meting.

NEWS — The big-ticket items got most of the talk tonight (Tuesday) as more than 100 people showed up for a budget-input meeting with City council at the Interior Savings Centre.

It was the last chance for taxpayers to have a say on supplementary budget items before council starts making decisions on them March 25 in prep for finalizing the budget in early April.

After brief introductions, the discussion broke into roundtable groups and, as expected, parks, recreation and culture attracted the biggest crowd. While people sat and stood three deep at the table to talk about plans for a new performing arts centre, the public works roundtable was deserted.

Staff is asking council to approve $260,000 to complete studies on the new arts centre, but some councillors have expressed reservations about it.

Not so the group who crowded into that particular table topic last night.

“I think very often we see the arts as a frill,” said one resident. ”I think in Kamloops we’re very open to the sports so I want to bring arts into the same picture.

“I think it’s important to support the scope of the work. I think it’s really important it be done now rather than a year or two from now.”

Carts and culture manager Barb Berger, taking notes on a flip chart, asked if others agreed with those sentiments. All of the some 20 people at the table did, enthusiastically.

Parks, recreation and culture manager Byron McCorkell told The Armchair Mayor News if council decides to split the $260,000 into two or three years, it won’t necessarily slow the project down.

He said the funding would complete enough work to create “a reasonable question” for a referendum.

A $250,000 Kermode bear habitat for the B.C. Wildlife Park also seemed to get a sympathetic ear, with one resident saying the zoo had put Kamloops on the map.

The Wildlife Park would need another $150,000 grant in 2015, with the project costing $750,000 altogether, of which the zoo would raise $300,000.

A request for a $37,000 operating grant for the 2014 Kamloops Thrive Festival, which had been generating some community discussion, was dropped from the list before the meeting started.

Other major requests included $750,000 to design and construct a 1.5 m. pedestrian shoulder on Todd Road between Ronde Lane and Kahanie Drive, a distance of 1.1 km.

Residents staged a march along the stretch of road last year demanding improvements.

In other parts of town, sidewalks, bike lanes and muti-use pathways would get $250,000 worth of improvements if approved.

About Mel Rothenburger (9489 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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