TWENTY YEARS AGO, Kamloops was feeling good about itself.
The waterfront from Riverside Park to the Red Bridge was being transformed, the art gallery was a popular amenity, the museum had been revamped, Riverside Coliseum (now Sandman Centre) had been built, and plans were in the works for a referendum on construction of the Tournament Capital Centre and upgrading and expansion of the McArthur Island Sports and Events Centre.
The city was truly becoming a great place to “live, work and play,” as its strategic plans put it. One thing was missing: an iconic performing arts centre. Though a $2-million renovation spruced up the Sagebrush Theatre, and the Pavilion Theatre was popular for smaller stage productions, Kamloops was woefully short of arts spaces.
In 2003, a cultural strategic plan was released painting a picture of a Kamloops that could be as strong in cultural amenities as it was in sports venues.
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 email@example.com.