Kamloops arts centre referendum defeated

Residents of the city voted down the proposal in a referendum held Nov. 7

Drawing shows the proposed layout of a performing arts centre in Kamloops. The proposal was recently defeated in a referendum.

Drawing shows the proposed layout of a performing arts centre in Kamloops. The proposal was recently defeated in a referendum.

Andrea Klassen – Kamloops This Week

With all 18 polls reporting, Kamloops has voted against a $90-million parkade and performing arts centre.

According to numbers from Kamloops City Hall, 53.7 per cent of residents voted against the project, while 46.3 per cent voted for.

The city had asked voters for permission to borrow up to $49 million for the complex, with a 1,200-seat main stage theatre, 350-seat black box and 350-stall underground parkade, to be built at the former Kamloops Daily News site on Seymour Street.

Voter turnout in the referendum was 32 per cent.

Coun. Pat Wallace called the results “extremely disappointing.

“I think people bought the idea this was all about taxes,” she said. “I think they forgot about their children, their grandchildren.”

Wallace said there is no plan for what to do next with the Kamloops Daily News property at this time.

Brendan Shaw, chair of the Yes Committee, said he thinks residents didn’t get enough facts about the project.

“I think there was a lot of misinformation out in the community,” he said.

Shaw believes there was a clear appetite for some sort of arts facility, pointing to the Not Yet campaign, which advocated building a centre after more consultation.

But, he’s not sure the conversation will pick up again any time soon.

Mayor Peter Milobar said the city will honour the results of the referendum.

He, too, expressed disappointment with the vote, but said he wasn’t entirely surprised due to hesitancy in the city around the cost of the project.

“It was a great opportunity to invest in ourselves and the community and it has been missed,” he said.

Milobar said it’s anyone’s guess what comes next for the Daily News site, which the city already owns, and said residents shouldn’t expect to see a large chunk of additional money in the city’s budget now that the project is off the table.

 

“I think people think this no-vote today was to spend money on other things, that’s not the case,” he said. “We’re not going to raise taxes the additional two per cent just for the heck of it.”