ROTHENBURGER: PAC opponents, come out, come out, wherever you are

(Image: Facebook, No PAC Kamloops)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IN CASE YOU WERE wondering if anybody was going to form an opposition to the performing arts centre, there is one.

Well, sort of. A Facebook page called No PAC Kamloops has emerged, but whoever is running it refuses to be identified. The page administrator apparently fears that PAC supporters and the media will be critical.

One post from him or her says, “I have no desire to speak to the media. They have made up their minds and are one of the main driving forces behind this horror story. As for my identity, if I wish to reveal it publicly, I will. Until then, it is no ones (sic) business.”

Another post says, “The media will attack this page soon. Rothenburger will lead the charge of course. This whole debacle has been his pet project for years. Decades even. Then all his media minions will follow suit.”

I’m flattered by the assumption that other media meekly do my bidding, that they are obedient followers to whatever opinions I throw out there. Alas, I doubt that’s the case.

The issue is not that somebody has started a Facebook page opposing the PAC. The issue is that its initiators won’t stand up and be counted.

By all means, challenge the project. Question the numbers, the location, the design, the cost and the need. But to be taken seriously, you have to put your name behind it.

Anonymous Facebook posts that inflate the estimated $70 million capital cost to $100 million, and repeat over and over again, “The answer is still NO” don’t cut it.

There should be a pro and con public discussion of this important and expensive project but that can’t be done if one side hides behind the bushes.

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

About Mel Rothenburger (8130 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.

7 Comments on ROTHENBURGER: PAC opponents, come out, come out, wherever you are

  1. There are “NO” votes out there. I for one, will be voting NO.
    If there is anything that is not true in the information below, please let me know. The cost of the PAC – conducting a quick interest calculator on $45million – 25 years at 3% – monthly payments of $213,395.09 – total cost, including interest is $64,018527.52 – approx. $7000 per day for $25 years. That may be pennies/dollars per tax payer, but when you keep adding increases to property taxes, water/sewer, BC Hydro; Fortis, ICBC, cost of living generally – wages are not keeping up to these increases – who is going to be able to afford to go to any events at the new PAC?
    • I do not believe that no “new taxes” will be used. Yes, a large debt with the City of Kamloops will be paid off, but we will continue to pay debt for the PAC which will not reduce our taxes.
    • We will continue to have our property taxes increased in 2020 and beyond. The City of Kamloops is projecting a 2.67% tax increase to keep all services as they currently are, plus cover a shortfall in insurance costs and a shortfall at TCC.
    • Residents of Kamloops also need to look at the increase in 2020 water / sewer rates. This is from an article in Dec 2019 “Kamloops City council voted for an increase of 7% in 2020, equating to about $29 extra for the average-assessed property. City utility services manager Greg Wightman said the city is working toward a five- to 10-year capital plan without having to borrow. In the past, the city has borrowed for projects like the sewage-treatment plant. The boost to sewer rates will help to build up reserves for projects such as a large, multi-million-dollar project on Tranquille Road”
    o Instead of borrowing $45million for the PAC, lets fund this instead?? What happens if we also have to borrow millions more for a sewer capital plan? – then both our taxes and water/sewer will continue to increase on top of the debt for the PAC?
    PAC Proposal
    • The Kamloops Performing Arts Centre Society is to raise approx. $25million dollars to be applied towards the construction costs.
    o What happens if they aren’t successful in raising these funds? Will the project still go ahead? I am assuming that the project will go ahead so how can PAC/City guarantee that the taxpayers will not have to cover any shortfalls?
    Operating Budget
    • Year 1 City of Kamloops will contribute $703,000; year 5 $383,000.
    o The City of Kamloops is currently projecting a tax increase in 2020 of 2.67% to keep all current service levels and to cover shortfalls for insurance costs and a shortfall in TCC revenues. From 2020 and onwards, when adding in these NEW additional operating costs, our taxes will have to be increased every year to cover “existing services” and these new operating costs. How can the City/Proponents say that no new tax dollars are required?
    • The construction of the facility is projected to result in 565 FTE jobs, with the large majority, 474 FTE jobs or 84% in BC throughout the construction phase. The ongoing operations of the facility would create or sustain approximately 31 FTE jobs, of which over 90% would be in BC, and dominantly in Kamloops.
    o Where are the additional FTE jobs going to be if they are not in BC and/or Kamloops? The majority of funds required to build this facility is from the City of Kamloops taxpayers – ALL jobs should be in Kamloops.
    Re-vitalization – vibrant downtown core
    • Supporters say that it will re-vitalize the downtown core and make it more vibrant.
    o How will it revitalize the downtown core? Most likely the majority of events at PAC will be held in the evening after normal business hours. The downtown core shuts down at 6:00pm, except for restaurants/coffee shops – For example: I went downtown on Boxing Day, which you would assume would be a busy day for retailers, but the only businesses that were open were restaurants, coffee shops. How is the downtown core going to be more “vibrant” when the businesses aren’t even open?
    o I have asked the City why the Kamloops Museum and/or Kamloops Art Galley aren’t open extended hours (or open / close later) during the summer months when tourists, including Rocky Mountaineer guests are visiting Kamloops – the impression I received was that no-one from the City wanted to discuss this with the Union. Again, how does the PAC attract tourists / revitalize the downtown core, make it more vibrant when our major attractions aren’t open?
    o Tour companies, including Rocky Mountaineer, have indicated strong interest in adding additional stays in Kamloops for visitors to attend events and activities. According to a July 2018 presentation delivered to Kamloops City Council, Rocky Mountaineer anticipates increasing the number of passengers by 51% from 2018 to 2022” – How will this benefit City residents, when it is quite possible that residents may not be able to purchase tickets. Will there be a limit on how many tickets Rocky will be allowed to purchase?
    o There is the argument that Kamloops is the tournament capital of Canada and it is now time to invest in the arts. That may be true and I know that the TCC/sporting facilities brings in revenue to businesses and taxes to the City. I do not believe that with the investment in the PAC that it will bring in close to what these sporting facilities bring in. Also, we subsidize all these City sporting facilities through “operating costs/grants”. Our taxes will increase as we will be obligated to pay operating costs on existing facilities, plus now if this proposal proceeds, we will be paying operating costs for the PAC.
    Loss of Business
    • The City/proponents claim that the City is missing out on “major acts” – How can the City/proponents say this when an answer in the City of Kamloops “Let’s Talk” website quoted
    o “it is difficult to quantify the number opportunities Kamloops has missed due to a lack of appropriate venue space. What we do know is that Kamloops is uniquely positioned in the province to host productions that currently pass through Kamloops’ highways as they are touring through Western Canada and the US Pacific Northwest. Concerts, theatre productions, comedy shows, and speakers’ series are examples of some of the touring events the Kamloops Centre for the Arts could accommodate”
     Has anyone from the City or the PAC committee had any contact with these organizations or have any valid research to show that Kamloops / PAC would be a stopping point / preferred venue? Will the new PAC even be large enough for “major acts” or will they still have to go to Sandman? (i.e. ZZ Top, Elton John etc.)
    • The PAC “has projected 145 bookings per year in the large theatre includes civic and community bookings as well as “shows” I.E graduation & convocation ceremonies: The City currently hosts approximately 25 bookings per year in arenas or at the TCC to host 1,500-2,000 people each.”
    o So now instead of these events being held at TCC, Mc Park or Sandman Centre they will now be at the PAC – what is going to replace events at TCC, Mc Park, Sandman Centre? Where does the shortfall of revenue at these existing venues come from? Are we as taxpayers responsible to pay shortfalls (as we already will for 2020 for the TCC shortfall)?
    o From the City of Kamloops Let’s Talk “Another example is the year-end dance productions presented by the local dance studios. Each of the nine studios produces a minimum of 2 productions each (due to the lack of availability of additional dates in the Sagebrush Theatre) to a full house. Additionally, the large theatre would allow larger local productions the opportunity to extend their runs, as well as improving our community’s chance of securing tours that need longer availability of dates”
     This is one comment from a local dance studio from their website Q & A “‘why fee for year end show tickets?” answer paraphrasing: – “the cost of renting and staffing the venue is very high – we are unable to afford to put on a performance without a ticket price”.
    • If these organizations have a difficult time in paying rent for Sagebrush Theatre, how are these local dance studios going to be able to afford the PAC rental fees?
    • PAC quote “The development of the Kamloops Centre for the Arts is a significant opportunity to grow a market where demand currently exceeds the available supply of venues. Kamloops often misses opportunities to host a touring group, conference, artist, or event as there is not a venue suitable or available for the requested dates. Many of these opportunities choose to bypass Kamloops and move on to Vernon, Kelowna or Penticton. These events would draw customers to the many hotels and restaurants in the city and provide economic and employment opportunities for people living in Kamloops”
    o Again what “market”. The City/PAC proponents keep saying that Kamloops mises out on opportunities but they have nothing to support this point.
    VOTE NO!

    • Mel Rothenburger // January 27, 2020 at 6:14 PM // Reply

      The referendum question is on borrowing a maximum of $45 million. If sufficient funds for the rest aren’t raised through fund raising, the project can’t go ahead, because the City can’t borrow more than the $45 million.

      • i don’t believe that is true – if sufficent funds aren’t raised from the PAC efforts, I have been told that the project will be re-designed to meet what budget the PAC efforrts/City has raised. – the project will be scaled down not stopped – so we as taxpayers will still have the $45m debt

  2. I’ve questioned” the numbers, the location, the design, the cost, and the need,” as well as raised ethical questions around the hiring of the architect to “design the project.” i have done so on the super forum provided by the city, at Let’s take referendum arts centre a (city of Kamloops website). My name is there, resolutely even persistently. I am not opposed to a PAC (that’s what it is; ignore the games), just deeply convinced we are making bad choices. I do want to see better facilities for all our artists and ones intended for everyone in our community. let’s have real public discussion, even debate, around the many issues. Thank you city hall for real leadership towards that end.

  3. Whoever it is, they’re right. I’ve been trying to get their attention for five years – and I’ve got a to. Of experience and subject matter expertise. The media have been seduced by an old man’s fever dream. This thing is a money bucking black hole which will kneecap the city for a generation. Minds are made up on both sides. Hopefully we can put a stake through this thing’s heart for the final time in April. No. No. No. How many times do we have to say it?

  4. For me, the PAC is not a simple stand alone issue.
    >The St. Andrews on the Square fiasco is still unfolding.
    >The ongoing public funding for extra bylaw officers and security people to deal with the insufficient parking for Sandman Centre on the correct side of the railway tracks.
    >The possible loss of the CP Rail level crossings at 3rd and 2nd Avenues because of the ongoing safety issues that have conveniently been downplayed.
    >What looked like a windfall from (legal) cannabis sales has not turned out quite as planned.
    >The seeming lack of social conscience in caring for those who are unable to care for themselves when the outside temperature falls to minus 25C.

    As far as the PAC is concerned, it seems like a simple “yes” or “no” vote based on some of these other things might be what makes up my mind above and beyond the hype and promises of any propaganda machine.

    • I am more and more of the idea the whole Bylaws department is one huge fiasco in itself for which no extra funding will ever fix. A systemic problem with troublesome individuals employed within and managing it, it is in need of a serious overall and a fresh start which I doubt will ever happen. In as much as I would like to see a PAC being built, I concur with you John on all the things you have mentioned.

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