FRIDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — The City did a smart thing by acquiring the Kamloops Daily News building on Seymour Street. Downtown property is tough to come by, especially the size of that one.
The $4.8 million price tag gives the City a building on one lot, and a pretty good-sized parking lot just across the alley. Until City Hall figures out what to do with it all, it can work on finding tenants for the building — which might eventually have to come down to accommodate whatever development it decides on.
The purchase is reminiscent of what was known as the Scoopz property on Lorne Street across from Riverside Park. The City bought that one several years ago because it needed parking, but ended up selling it for a hotel development.
The stated purpose of buying the KDN property is likewise for parking, but the City is wisely keeping its options open. When the newspaper died in January, there was speculation the City would buy it for use as either a parkade or a performing arts centre.
And, indeed, those two things are on the list of possibilities being acknowledged at City Hall. A third one, raised by Mayor Peter Milobar, is a surprise.
There hasn’t been any indication for years of an interest in a new City Hall, probably due to sensitivities around spending.
As much as a new City Hall will be needed in the years to come, raising it at a time when millions in capital spending will be needed for the two other projects that are already on the go is an interesting move. It will now almost certainly become an election issue as we move closer to November.
Another thing — there should be no assumption that the new acquisition is the best place for a performing arts centre. Putting such a thing downtown where traffic and parking are a big issue has its definite downsides despite arguments about it having to be near restaurants.
When City council debates the staff recommendation to spend $260,000 on studies for a new performing arts centre, it should give clear direction that those studies consider all options for location.