An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
NOW THAT all hope of saving the Kamloops Daily News building is lost — the contract has been awarded to demolish it and put up a parking lot — we’re supposed to rest assured that City Hall is already thinking hard about what to build there.
At last week’s City council meeting, Acting Mayor Arjun Singh emphasized that it’s important for everyone to understand that the parking lot is temporary. We must come up with ideas for long-term use, he said.
City CAO David Trawin offered assurances that the appropriate committees will be brainstorming on the subject.
It all has the sound of an attempt to reassure everyone that the whole fumbled exercise was worth the time and expense — the purchase of the building for $4.8 million, the rejection by voters of a $90-million performing arts centre they thought was too rich, the failure to come up with an alternative, and now the $1.1-million teardown-and-asphalt project.
Already, at least a couple of candidates in the September by-election have jumped on the “let’s all put our thinking caps on” bandwagon. If only we convince ourselves that the property will be a parking lot for just a short while, everything will be OK.
The question needs to be asked, what’s the sudden rush? The $1.1 million is going to be spent no matter how long it takes to decide what to put there. Asphalt lasts quite a long time.
Why is it so important to put a building there just so that something is put there? In other words, a building for the sake of a building, so that the City can brush itself off and move on, closing an unhappy chapter in civic governance.
A property like this one needs a specific, obvious purpose. One specific, obvious purpose — the PAC — failed to materialize. There shouldn’t be any hurry to find something second best to take its place.
Some day, another perfect use will come along for that building, but it needs to come naturally, not be forced through haste. There needs to be the right project looking for a home, not a home desperately looking for a project.