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EDITORIAL – No vote Saturday but let’s keep talking about the arts centre

Ron and Rae Fawcett talk to media after meeting with City council last year. (Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

SATURDAY WAS SUPPOSED TO BE a big day in Kamloops.

That’s when residents were scheduled to vote on a new performing arts centre. The referendum, of course, was sidelined by COVID-19.

But the pandemic shouldn’t stop us from looking beyond the pandemic. We can still think and talk.

Before the virus came along, there was optimism in the air about the referendum, much more so than in 2015 when the first vote failed. Mayor Ken Christian talked about it during his recent State of the City speech to the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce.

It was an excellent speech but some of his comments were surprising.

In trying to compare the now-postponed PAC referendum to the one on the Tournament Capital Centre 17 years ago, he claimed the TCC was criticized as a facility nobody would use, was too expensive and in the wrong place.

Only one of those was correct. Many thought $38 million was too much money. But there was next to no disagreement about the location, because it amounted to expansions of two already-existing venues — TRU and McArthur Island.

Both offered plenty of parking, a major consideration. That’s something the PAC plan doesn’t cover.

As to who would use it, the TCC was accurately pitched as being not just for elite athletes but for the general population, not just as spectators but as participants.

Christian can be forgiven for his failed comparison because he wasn’t involved in the TCC campaign, but we need to be clear on what the PAC plan is — it’s strengths and weaknesses. These are the kinds of things that need more public discussion.

When the referendum resurfaces post-COVID-19, people will be cautious. Let’s hope there’s still an appetite for a PAC, enough to have a robust community debate.

The question will be whether this plan is the right one. So let’s keep talking about it.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

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

About Mel Rothenburger (7468 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.

7 Comments on EDITORIAL – No vote Saturday but let’s keep talking about the arts centre

  1. Frank Dwyer // April 2, 2020 at 4:51 PM // Reply

    Naysayer is another way of describing, even dispariging, someone who doesn’t agree with your position. I call it a different opinion with validity on both sides. For much discussion – though now surely is not the time to raise the issue, but atleast there is time to reflect on both points of view – read the discussion and the Q & A responses on the city of Kamloops web site “Lets talk Kamloops arts centre referendum.” Rightly now our focus is rightly on all our health concerns and support for each other, for the entire community.

  2. R A George // April 2, 2020 at 1:19 PM // Reply

    I,m sorry,but isn’t it time to seriously examine ” moving forward” in all of it’s aspects.

  3. Kathy McArthur // April 2, 2020 at 10:02 AM // Reply

    My name is Kathy McArthur … I’m 86 years young … I love Kamloops and have lived here for over 50 years. I’m remembering when this settlement was just 6 or 7 small communities strung out along the Trans Canada Highway. Nowhere to go … nothing to do … just the drive-in for ‘culture’.
    But Kamloops was a great place to raise kids, with amazing citizens and lots of wonderful nature to explore … lakes for boating and fishing … hills for biking, hunting and skiing.
    Along came amalgamation (with a lot of grumbling) and it was good.
    Then we began to grow – the pulp mill expanded … soon we were 80,000 strong … Kamloops became the Tournament Capital (again with some grumbles) and soon, we had all the best sports facilities an athlete (or a family) could wish for … and then a University that welcomed students from around the world. I’m glad that the City didn’t always ‘sideline’ betterments.
    Now, the Kamloops Performing Arts Centre must be kept in the forefront of the minds of all residents. It is a symbol of hope and a promise of progress. It’s the next step up in our growth to become a city that welcomes the widest spectrum of new population. A PAC (with a good parking plan included) will improve the growth of new businesses offering employment which will fuel the economy and increasing the expansion of opportunities for the entire population of the city and the TNRD. Youth will find more opportunities to encourage them to remain in Kamloops – to continue the growth of our city. A Centre for the Arts that would be used for conventions of all sorts, trade shows, lecture halls, dance studios, theatre/music studios and many more events will ultimately be valued by every citizen.
    Please, together, let’s get this Covid-19 under control … tighten our belts and move forward together.

  4. Ted Guthrie // April 2, 2020 at 10:01 AM // Reply

    K. Martyn speaks wise words that should be listened to.

  5. The PAC should move to the bottom of the list; it was not the only show in town “sidelined by COVID-19”. Businesses, jobs and lives are not only being “sidelined” but will be gone – some forever. Given the current economic crisis, the City has no business bringing the PAC up for referendum for another 5 years, lest they show their total inconsideration of what is currently happening to Kamloops taxpayers, the effects of which will last for years.

    • John Noakes // April 2, 2020 at 10:56 AM // Reply

      K. Martyn, you are right.
      The PAC is political suicide for any of the local politicians to suggest for the next 5 years.
      At very best, there might be a building downtown that can be re-purposed without constructing something new and going into years of debt trying to pay for it.

      • Kathy McArthur // April 2, 2020 at 12:41 PM //

        Kathy says “There always will be the ‘Nay’ sayers … just look how far we’ve come since the ’60s!”

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