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EDITORIAL – There’s a reason most people oppose tearing down KDN

(Image: CFJC)

An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

NOT TO BELABOR the KDN building issue — well, okay, let’s belabor it a bit — tearing down the building for a few parking spaces remains a questionable decision on the part of Kamloops City council.

A couple of online polls show it’s not a popular option, and suggest the city’s taxpayers think council should try harder to make use of the building instead of knocking it over. The cost for demolition and pavement is estimated at $1.1 million, but it won’t be a big surprise if bids come in higher.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s say the job ends up costing taxpayer $1.5 million. Members of council who voted for the teardown — and that’s almost all of them — offer the comfort that, some day, the property could still be used for a worthy municipal project.

Let’s say that project is a version of the Performing Arts Centre project. The pavement would have to be torn up, erasing the $1.5-million investment in parking. Then, a PAC would be constructed, at a much higher cost per square foot than the original proposal, accounting for inflation.

The situation is reminiscent of the Sandman Centre arena, originally named Riverside Coliseum. In the mid-1980s a referendum was put to voters for a $50-million complex that, due to very substantial senior-government funding, would have cost local taxpayers only $10 million.

The project was narrowly defeated, but just a couple of years later a much smaller project that included only the arena was approved for more than twice the local share of the original plan.

The Kamloops Centre BIA is all in favour of the KDN teardown because, as president Mike O’Reilly asked when he appeared before council, where else are the parking spaces supposed to come from?

The answer, of course, is that they would come from underground parking incorporated into a new project at the site, yielding more spaces than surface parking will.

An online poll on ArmchairMayor.ca showed that almost 72 per cent of those taking part thought council should continue searching for a better idea for the property. A similar poll on CHNL is trending close to 60 per cent against the parking-lot option.

The reason is clear: wasting prime downtown real estate on a temporary parking lot is a bad idea.

mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5081 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – There’s a reason most people oppose tearing down KDN

  1. Grouchy 1 // May 1, 2017 at 9:10 AM // Reply

    The city should sell the property, building & all, to someone that will make good use of it. The city should never have bought it in the first place without checking to see if Peter M’s dream/ legacy project would fly with the taxpayer. Council, and city staff have absolutely no respect for the money that is collected for taxes, and regularly prove it with stupid purchases that are over assessed values at the time. And if you remember, at the time the PAC was being pushed, it was stated that there was no Plan B if the PAC didn’t get approved, just a possible parking lot, as we see now. By not selling the property yet, the city shows that it is either still in denial over being shut down by taxpayers, or still in the middle of their tantrum over the whole thing.

  2. -If they put a facade capital ridge along the top of the building it wouldn’t look so ’60’s dull…’ (“Square.”).
    Plus, obviously, don’t paint it pink, yet maybe something in a little less industrial looking than it is at present, in its flat-matte-dirty-yellow and gray colour scheme exterior (-If… you could call it that…legitimately.)!

    -Maybe by making it into a new City Hall, the back lot would justify a four or five level parkade -like the one beside the downtown library in Kelowna: it looks quite sharp (glassed in on one-side etc.).

    If all else fails, just paint it all white and ‘ignore, that its there for another ten years,’ then sell the entire two lots to a developer whom would primarily build the entire lot out with a, say, an eight story building: housing City Hall; development services; a new museum space and a grand hall for all the venues in the arts…parkade underground.
    Central to downtown and easily accessible to all whom visit day or night with security.

  3. I have to say, it’s not often that I agree with you, but well said? I think the KGHM preforming arts center will fill that space beautifully!

  4. So, with some further belaboring we can agree the Peter Milobar signature plan was not at all well thought out to begin with. Because, besides a different financing scheme, a different, perhaps “in stages” building could’ve been at least contemplated.
    The attitude he had of “all or nothing” and the financial embellishment in the brochure was not “pleasant” either.
    The public has the upmost right to question. The politicians/administrators got to be well prepared.

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