Hundreds give say on arts centre

Parking, amenities important to long-proposed facility

Jason Hewlett / Kamloops Daily News
February 25, 2013 01:00 AM

City arts and culture manager Barb Berger, left, and TRU president Alan Shaver collect ideas on design priorities.

Parking, a place to eat, and good acoustics are what Kamloops residents want in a performing arts centre.

About 200 people turned up at the Tournament Capital Centre on Saturday morning for an open house that provided the City with ideas for the long-proposed arts centre.

The gathering - a mix of the city's arts crowd, politicians and the general public - was split into three large brainstorming groups led by members of a committee charged with guiding the centre's development.

Norm Daley and Fiona Chan were in charge of one group, Alan Shaver another and Michael Fane the third. Sandy Watt was not present.

"You're from out of town. When you get there, what do you need to do?" Shaver asked his group. "If it's an evening event, maybe you want to stay out?"

The answers he got revolved around a multi-use facility with a covered drop-off point for transit, a coffee shop or restaurant, and ample parking.

One woman suggested underground parking, saying getting in and out of the Sagebrush Theatre can be dicey in the snow and ice of the winter.

"I want there to be art," another person said, adding the facility itself should be a draw. "There could be a museum."

One of the criteria facilitator Brenda Aynsley asked people to keep in mind is what amenities like hotels and restaurants would be within a four-block radius.

Businessman and former City councillor Denis Walsh took issue with limiting things to within four-blocks. He said that excludes perfectly good locations like the Henry Grube Education Centre in North Kamloops.

Daley reminded Walsh the location isn't yet part of the discussion. But Walsh said thinking about what's in the surrounding area limits where an arts centre can go.

"Is four blocks really important?" Daley asked at that point. "How about we just say within a reasonable distance?"

His group nodded in agreement.

Actor Kirk Smith said it's important the centre be within walking distance of hotels and restaurants as performers will come from out of town and need to stay close to rehearsals.

People also asked for a concert hall with good acoustics, rehearsal space and a bar.

Mayor Peter Milobar said he's happy with the turnout and the input.

"We're getting pretty good, and broad, points of view. Certainly everything is being covered. There's downtown advocates. There's Henry Grube advocates," he said.

The groups also discussed design priorities and how an arts centre will support the city's economic, social and cultural sustainability.

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