An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
SOMETIMES IT TAKES the right person to promote an idea before it takes hold.
Last fall, Tourism Kamloops CEO Beverley DeSantis was shopping around the idea of a Kamloops convention centre.
Kamloops was missing out on a lot of business, she said, because the city couldn’t accommodate major conventions.
I wrote an editorial in October pointing out that DeSantis was relatively new to town and wasn’t aware of the history of convention-centre proposals here, and maybe not aware of the white-elephant history of convention centres in general.
I noted that the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, Vancouver Convention Centre and others are notorious money pits.
But I had another idea. In the editorial, which was headlined, “What about a Kamloops arts and convention centre,” I asked, “What if a convention centre was combined with a performing arts centre? It would make some sense, wouldn’t it? Convention centres need theatres, after all. Put them together with meeting rooms and we’ve got the Kamloops Arts and Events Centre, and it might actually make money.”
The concept didn’t exactly catch fire. The group promoting Performing Arts Centre version 2.0 completely ignored it when it unveiled its proposal to City Council in January.
But now, DeSantis is talking about the benefits of combining a convention centre with a performing arts centre. She says such a facility could be used by the entire community for a wide variety of events and it might get broader support among voters.
Maybe, but the big advantage of a combined facility would very likely be in the business case. It stands a better chance of not needing public operating subsidies than either a stand-alone PAC or convention venue.
So, go for it Beverley DeSantis. You’ve got the Armchair Mayor’s vote.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.