Kamloops needs showpiece City Hall complex, parkade

Kamloops Daily News
January 3, 2013 01:00 AM

I have been away from the city for some four years and have recently moved back. I followed the absurd solution that some folks had proposed as a cure to the downtown parking woes.

To build a parkade in front of Riverside Park, making it a blight on the downtown landscape and ruining the esthetics of the entrance to the park is something that I hope is never resurrected as a potential parking solution.

Now that I have moved back to Kamloops, I look around the city and think why there isn't that special development in the core of our city?

That one really exciting building complex that showcases Kamloops and has some level of visionary esthetic and function that many cities have. Kamloops does not, and I believe it needs it very badly.

So, here is an idea that some may consider exciting, purposeful and could be exceptionally special for our city.

We need a solution to downtown parking. We need a new City Hall (at some point this must happen and there is a cost to delaying the inevitable), we need better housing for low-income people, we could use some market rate and even more upscale condominium development.

Combine them all into one spectacular development downtown, right in the heart of the city. Why not? But where?

The Old Hudson Bay building and its adjacent parking both to the south and west of the structure? Now, some may believe that this old lady is part of the history of our downtown and yes, they may be right.

But, it is not pretty and occupies valuable land in a perfectly suited location fordowntown redevelopment. I don't believe it really has any heritage value and I would not hesitate to guess that The Daily News has more space there than it needs. It can relocate to something more suitable, with perhaps some incentives.

Consider the possibilities.

A multi-storey, architecturally spectacular multi-use complex, with perhaps even more uses and eye-pleasing componentsthat I can envision, such as a roof-top garden or a reflective poolfronting on Seymour Street.

Perhaps some ground level retail. Perhapsa small community meeting area for groups and charities, a good sensible mix of housing with full access to downtown amenities, a multi-level parking structure, a new City Hall that has an actual presence in the city, not some odd looking addition to what was originally the Woodward's department store.

A City Hall befitting a progressive mid-size city, set back with some green space perhaps. What exists now is an eyesore, an abomination in design and function with satellite department offices here, there and everywhere.

Economies of scale would dictate there must be a cost savings to bringing City resources under one roof.

Residential and retail units could help to subsidize the cost and give taxpayers a break on any mill-rate increases. There must be options out there for funding.

The result could be spectacular. Something that would be noticed by other cities. The design could be amazing, and the concept very progressive.

GARY BIRKELAND

Kamloops


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