EDITORIAL – Invisible council has to put up its hand for PAC to have a chance

Conceptual drawing of proposed PAC.

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

I HOPE THE ‘HANDS OFF’ STRATEGY City Hall seems to be taking on the performing arts centre works but I’m not so sure it will.

The idea is to put a strong community group out front to act as the proponent for an expected referendum that will happen once a design and costs are worked out and a location confirmed.

That, presumably, will avoid any perception that it’s just another scheme cooked up at 97 West Victoria Street.

I heard a City councillor remark yesterday that “we’re just spectators at this point.” In other words, it’s a case of “if the community wants it we’re behind it.”

Well, that’s not much different than the strategy that failed in the last referendum. There was a strong group of supporters that worked hard to get it approved, though they don’t get much credit for their efforts.

The problem was that there was also a strong group of opponents, which took up a lot of media space with its “PAC not yet” message.

Will it surface again? It’s too early to say but once a cost is attached — and, mark my words, it’s going to be higher than the $70 million estimated earlier this year — the objectors will start coming forward.

Tepid support from mayor and council was a major problem in the last referendum — don’t let it happen again.

It’s not that the mayor and council aren’t involved — they are. At a closed-door meeting in April, administration recommended to Council that the City serve as an external resource to a proposed not-for-profit society that would lead the charge.

That committee is now getting up and running but City Hall has to be very visibly onside for it to have a chance.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (7632 Articles) 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 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 – Invisible council has to put up its hand for PAC to have a chance

  1. Bruce Dunn // June 15, 2019 at 8:42 PM // Reply

    I don’t see the Kamloops Centre for the Arts being a white elephant nor do I see it bankrupting tenants. Kamloops is a major city in the Province and as such requires certain infrastructure to match it’s position. One could argue we didn’t need Riverside Coliseum but, by referendum (or two) it became a major part of Kamloops. One could argue that the Tournament Capital Centre was a bit of a stretch but it became a reality and has brought many events to the city – including the Lions training camp. Neither of these structures were, I am sure, supported by the whole populace but they are part of the fabric now. A centre for the arts is such a project. Kamloops needs it, many support the concept and many see its value in the greater scheme of things. I do think the Council could be a little more vocal in expressing their support though. The support is there, it’s just not too noticeable,

  2. Trish Keegan // June 14, 2019 at 3:35 PM // Reply

    I, too, would be pleased if the City took an active role in the Performing Arts Centre proposal. The last effort was disappointing, with the cheerleading squad on one side and the nay camp on the other, both with vested interests in the project. After the City finally held a public information session on a Thursday evening, only nine days were allotted for residents to read the weighty proposal and formulate questions before attending the next public meeting. That one was held at 9:30 on a Saturday morning (not a great time and day for many people) and was simply a series of break out discussions; no formal, open public questions, answers and opinions.

    The new approach to the project seems to be about the same as the last one. There will, undoubtedly, be a need for a referendum on spending–when parking is added the total cost will likely be more than seventy million–so the City must be more forthcoming with information and the opportunity for residents to peruse and question the proposal.

    I was also looking forward to a request for input from residents about many issues, for instance, on the location for the Performing Arts Centre. The site for the PAC at 4th and Seymour seems to be a foregone conclusion just because the last City Council decided to buy the property and pay to have the building torn down and a parking lot built. This does not mean it is the best or most favoured site for the PAC. As far as I can recall, residents did not have a say in this decision.

    The generosity of the Fawcett Family for financial and design support should be put on hold until Kamloops residents have the opportunity for input.

  3. Glen Cairns // June 14, 2019 at 7:44 AM // Reply

    The biggest challenge with this version of the PAC is that it has used the flawed premise and process of the last PAC as its foundational document. The underlying assumptions of the failed PAC have been absorbed into the foundational premise of of this newest version of the PAC. I’m all in favour of developing cultural infrastructure, but this thing is a white elephant. It will bankrupt its tenants within five years of opening its doors. This PAC is no different than the last PAC and needs a major rethink.

  4. This time the society and its supporters will undertake a pledge campaign to show the naysayers a large portion of Kamloops’ population is actually behind this proposal. Personally, I will be more than happy to contribute.

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