I was speaking to the Probus Club of Kamloops week before last on various civic matters, and the subject of a new performing arts centre naturally came up.
I was asked for my thoughts. I replied that, in my view, it should be the next priority in civic amenities. I also said it had a tough row to hoe — it’s been on the City’s agenda since shortly after the turn of the century and has yet to get past the talking stage.
There’s a significant body of opinion out there that translates to “not with my tax dollars, you don’t.”
Meaning there’s a good chance it would fail on the first referendum try, but it might succeed on a second. But it will never be approved unless the public has a clear vision in front of it as to what it will look like, what it will include, and where it will be built.
Another very interesting point was brought up at that meeting, one I’ve touched on before. The very existence of the Sagebrush Theatre is a barrier to a new centre.
One Probus member felt very strongly that we shouldn’t even be talking about a new Kamloops Centre for the Performing Arts. Rather, we should be thinking in terms of a new Kamloops Concert Hall.
That’s a valid point. Giving up on the concept of a joint drama-music venue would bring down the cost quite a bit.
So, let’s say it would cost $20 million instead of $30 million. Let’s be creative for a moment in figuring out the most painless way to pay for it.
Assume the Henry Grube property and its handsome acreage were gifted to the City in a partnership deal with the board of education. The existing building would, of course, be torn down.
Let’s say we’re now looking at $15 million left to be funded by taxpayers. Traditionally, such projects have been three-way partnerships between the City, the feds and the province.
Five million in local money doesn’t seem insurmountable. Further suppose an additional $1 million could be raised in corporate and private donations and naming rights.
Now we have $4 million. But, of course, the cost of borrowing is often as expensive as the principle.
If I’m reading City reports correctly, downtown parking brings in net revenues of around $200,000 a year through meters, tickets and permits after the cost of parking control is taken into consideration, Based on 800 meters, that’s about $250 a meter.
The business area around Tranquille Road has about 200 to 250 parking spots. If paid parking were to be imposed on the North Shore, the revenue per meter should be higher than downtown because there would be little additional cost for control.
If the City floated a bond at five per cent for $4 million through the Municipal Finance Authority, the cost of borrowing would amount to only about $200,000 a year amortized over 15 to 20 years. Not including the principle, of course.
That $200,000 could almost be paid for with North Shore parking revenues.
Mel, what have you been smoking? Well, prove me wrong on my arithmetic. Then prove me wrong in thinking there’s got to be a way to get a new performing arts… er, concert hall.