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 ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.