City eyeing timelines for potential big-ticket items including performing arts centre, new ice rinks

City eyes big-ticket projects

City staff will be laying out potential timelines for a number of big-ticket projects before a council committee this week, asking for mayor and councillors to consider moving ahead on some recommendations laid out in the city’s previously adopted recreation master plan.

According to a memo prepared for the Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting, some of the suggestions put forward in the plan — adopted in 2019 — include studying the feasibility of developing new sports venues, like indoor ice surfaces, an indoor field space and a new aquatics space.

The recreation master plan had also set out a recommendation for the city to work with the Kamloops Centre for the Arts Society, putting together a proposal for a downtown performing arts centre.

“The recreation master plan identified that Kamloops provides major recreation infrastructure at similar levels to comparable communities. The plan also identified deficiencies, including a large, multi-faceted cultural venue; arenas; multi-purpose gymnasiums; field house space and a recreational aquatic space,” the city report said.

“To address the infrastructure recommendations in the plan, planning for new recreation infrastructure will require including them in the five and 10-year financial plans.”

The staff report said sport tourism has been an “economic engine," with tournament-participant spending contributing over $10 million per year on average to the city's economy.

“With aging infrastructure and no new or significantly upgraded facilities, the Tournament Capital program is now falling behind as other communities build new pools, arenas and multiplex facilities,” the report said.

Staff said the most urgent need is to develop a performing arts venue and to add more ice surfaces.

The report said there is a demand for community-based arts and culture programming. A referendum on the proposed Kamloops Centre for the Arts had been previously scheduled for April 2020, but was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to staff, before the pandemic, city ice surfaces were being used up to 92 per cent of their available capacity, and 120 per cent of capacity during prime time.

Staff said an additional one to two ice sheets, at minimum, would allow athletes to train as much as they need to stay competitive, while also allowing for public skating and learn-to-skate opportunities.

City staff said Kamloops is also one of the only major communities in B.C. without an indoor field facility — something the local soccer and lacrosse communities have been advocating for, according to the report.

“We need to conduct a full investigation of facility types, operating models and potential community partnerships that could be leveraged for the development of this facility in our community,” the staff report said.

The report laid out timelines for proposed projects. If approved by council and added to the city's financial plan, goals for the upcoming year would include continuing work with the Kamloops Centre for the Arts Society, planning for new ice sheets, and exploring partnerships for the development of an indoor field.

The cost to build a twin-sheet ice arena is estimated at $45 million, while an indoor field space is estimated at $8 million.

A Performing Arts Centre is estimated to cost $90 million. The wish list also estimates $50 million for a potential new aquatic facility and $30 million for curling upgrades.

The staff report said the city would likely need to borrow funding to support the construction of these projects.

“While we need to maintain existing infrastructure, we also need to address the gaps in existing infrastructure. We need to include new recreation infrastructure in the five- and 10-year capital plans to demonstrate fiscal responsibility to our citizens,” the report said.

“While the cost to build many of these facilities is an expensive investment, it is an investment in building a healthy community where quality of life is a priority.”

Mayor and council will have an opportunity discuss the staff memo — and proposed recreation master plan timelines — at the committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday.

For the performing arts centre, the report recommends a timeline that would see the facility's "final design process" get underway in 2024.

Budget items will be discussed further and voted on by council in the coming months.

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