An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
GET READY TO SPEND some more of those hard-earned tax dollars.
For the past 20 years, almost, Kamloops has prided itself in having the best sports and recreation facilities of any city its size in the country. We don’t call it Canada’s Tournament Capital for nothing.
That’s why a City update on the status of those facilities comes as a shock. According to the report, we’re no longer ahead of the pack. In fact, it says Kamloops is “facing significant challenges with aging sport and recreation infrastructure.”
It’s all a function of population growth. In almost all areas of sport, recreation and culture, we need to build, the report says. Not right away, but soon.
That includes new ice sheets, more gymnasia and multi-purpose spaces, more swimming pools, plus the long-sought performing arts centre. All of it has to be funded by debt, donations, grants and fundraising.
The debt part is what’s tricky. Kamloops voters have been stingy with their money when it comes to new facilities. The $38 million approved for Tournament Capital venues in 2003 was an exception.
The tab for new facilities is much more daunting: $50 million for a new aquatics centre, $45 million for a twin-sheet ice arena, $30 million for curling expansion, $8 million for an indoor field space, and on and on. Total wish list: $234 million.
A new performing arts centre tops that list at $90 million, up from the $70 million proposed just a couple of years ago.
It’s a wise move to put the arts centre among sports facilities in planning for the future, but it’s also worrisome. It’s the biggest missing piece in our lifestyle facilities but having to compete with new sports centres for funding could be tough.
The TC project has paid for itself several times over but there will be some difficult choices ahead for taxpayers, and one of them might be between sports and the arts.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, 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.