Performing Arts Society not ready to give up fight
The South Okanagan Performing Arts Society isn’t planning to give up their fight to have a restrictive covenant placed on two downtown Penticton properties.
At their last meeting, on Aug. 19, city council voted four to two against restricting the use of two empty properties at the corner of Ellis and Nanaimo Streets, which have long been earmarked for a performing arts centre.
“I am extremely disappointed that a majority of council failed to understand the request made by SOPAC at Monday night’s council meeting,” said SOPAC chair Jake Kimberley. “It was disappointing that some members of council insisted on having a business plan presented by SOPAC before they could vote in favour.”
A business plan has no bearing on that decision, according to Kimberley.
“I gather from their comments they didn’t fully understand the legislation in a restrictive covenant. It does not require a business plan,” said Kimberley. “We are just saying that if you want to dispose of this land, you must call a public meeting.”
The SOPAC board of directors is asking council to rescind its decision, which Kimberley, a former Penticton mayor, said is permissible under provincial legislation. Either the mayor or two-thirds of council could decide to bring the issue back for another vote.
A restrictive covenant, explained Kimberley, would ensure that this council or any future one would have to hold a public meeting before selling or otherwise disposing of the lots.
Normally, any land use changes would require notifying the neighbouring area, but a restrictive covenant would require that the entire city be notified of the public hearing. According to Kimberley, their aim is to ensure the whole community has an opportunity to have a say in the future of the properties.
“Not to say that council would accept their opinion or their direction, but at least they would have the opportunity,” said Kimberley.
Council was also concerned about how long the restrictive covenant would be in place, since little has happened since the SOPAC business plan was created in 2008. Kimberley, who suspects the current administration may have plans for the properties, said he couldn’t give a timeline for when the project might get off the ground.
“Until times change. Until the influence of council changes. The vision is there, it is contained in the community plan, and if there is a council that comes along that has the initiative to make it happen, then it will happen,” said Kimberley. “The economy has really affected what happened here.”