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EDITORIAL – Rushing to build something on KDN property would be a mistake

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.

mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

 

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About Mel Rothenburger (5147 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.

6 Comments on EDITORIAL – Rushing to build something on KDN property would be a mistake

  1. A six million dollar parking lot!?! Now 90 million sounds like a fair deal for a PAC, to bad we live in ‘Noloops’! We should ask KGHM to use a tiny portion of the 455 million offer made to First Nations (partially for the man made lake claimed as ancestral land) to build a performing arts center. It could be the benefit package that was asked for by our city council, the same council that has been against them from the beginning? Sorry to make this an Ajax thing, just sayin’ it could benefit all the residents of the area.

  2. tony brumell // July 4, 2017 at 12:48 PM // Reply

    I don’t remember anyone proposing a conversion of the KDN buildging to low income housing for homeless folk.I could be wrong but I believe that over 70 units could be set up on three floors with quite low costs involved.
    Any contract can be stopped .I would entail a penalty yes but it might be worth it.
    We ( the city) have a serious condition with it’s attendant problem with the large cohort of homeless people.This might help solve some of those issues.
    When there is a will it’s never to late to do the right thing.

  3. Completely agree. Asphalt it, and forget about it. A few years from now, someone will figure out we need a PAC and the darn thing will finally get built. Arjun, let sleeping babies be, we do not need to think now, about what goes there.

  4. That building was an opportunity for a private investor and the City likely would have been far better off not buying it.
    Had they offered a tax incentive to a high tech company to come in and set up shop (office space, data processing & storage, renewable energy are just some ideas), the new company and City would both have been winners in the long run.
    A friend of senior years used to say that if a private company can’t see turning a profit, then the public shouldn’t take on the burden of an idea to make a profit using public money.
    The taxpayers are on the hook now so we’ll see what transpires and how it reflects on future municipal tax increases.

  5. And further, isn’t it the mayor’s job to actively seeking consultation with the community at large about the future of said community…all day, every day?
    As mentioned, Sears management failed to see and seek new opportunities…another redundant parking lot as a result!

  6. Would it be fair and possible for you Mr. Rothenburger to ask the “thinking hat” be worn not only about the eventual fate of the newest parking lot but the fate of all others…because massive changes are happening all over the world about the way we live.
    Sears is closing and the reality of online shopping is sure to disrupt more of our traditional ways of purchasing and living. Sears wasn’t able to adapt, are them people in charge of our city able to at least ponder at the example?
    How many failed experiments can we afford? Is it too much to ask that other people’s money need to be spent with extreme caution and for good reasons?

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