Downtown Performing Arts Centre gets okay from city council

Ron Fawcett’s new and updated proposal for a arts centre draws a large crowd at Kamloops City Hall

Kamloops residents, local organizations and media crowded City Hall last week to hear the decision on the Performing Arts Centre. (Justin Moore/The Omega)

Last week at Kamloops City Council, Ron Fawcett took to the podium to delegate a new proposal for Kamloops’ own Performing Arts Centre that would be constructed downtown on Seymour and 4 Ave.

Joining Fawcett at City Council were members of the Western Canada Theatre, the Kamloops Symphony and the Kamloops Art Gallery. Many other small businesses of Kamloops and their staff  were also present at the Jan. 8 proposal.

This proposal comes four years after the initial referendum for a performing arts theatre and parkade in 2015, which was later shut down by the Kamloops public. Fawcett’s project builds on some of these initial plans, with some new ideas including a larger facility after Fawcett and his team toured other theatres and performing centres in the Lower Mainland.

In addition to the proposed building which would house three new theatres with roughly 1,785 seats between all three, Fawcett has also donated an existing building into the mix: the former annex to the Telus building. Reconstruction of that building will be overseen and paid for by Fawcett, with an estimated donation of $8 to $10 million.

“No other community in the interior of B.C. and even in comparable communities in western Canada has the quality of the orchestra, the theatre company and the art gallery that we do in Kamloops. We believe this centre will elevate and support all three organizations,” Fawcett said.

If the new centre is constructed, it would be the new home of operations for the Western Canada Theatre that is currently housed in the Pavilion theatre. The Kamloops Symphony and their music school would also base their operations inside of the proposed building.

There was talk of other groups renting and using the theatre for events and conferences hosted by TRU, Tourism Kamloops and possibly even the Rocky Mountaineer.

“This is a community building with many, many partnerships still to be exposed,” Fawcett added.

The issue of parking was brought up during the proposal, with summer shows possibly interfering with parking spaces that would be occupied by Blazers fans during the same evening. Currently, there are approximately 70 underground parking spaces in the Performing Arts Centre proposal, with two more underground floors being a rather expensive but achievable option.

At the end of the presentation, Mayor Ken Christian called the project “transformational” for downtown Kamloops, which was later motioned unanimously by the city council into the 2019 Strategic Plan. This was was met by clapping and large smiles by the majority in attendance.