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Letter: Performing arts centre or youth centre?

To have a performing arts centre in the downtown core of the city or a youth centre?

To have or not to have, that is the question?

To have a performing arts centre in the downtown core of the city or a youth centre? Why was that site on the old NanaimoHall chosen by past council’s for a Performing Arts Centre? Obviously, it was a great location for a performing arts centrewhich would eventually bring economic investment into the downtown core. That is why three previous councils campaignedto have Landmark Theatre locate its new movie theatre in the downtown core, it was to encourage people to want to live closeto these types of amenities, i.e. residential development.

The decision this council now has to make; what will bring the most long-term economic benefit into the downtown core, ayouth centre, or a performing arts centre? Which of these two proposed developments will bring more visitors, residents anddollars into the city? Pretty easy answer.

Review this present councils approach to downtown. This council introduced tax exemption zones in the downtown core toencourage residential development into the downtown area, which would help the businesses in that area. A very ambitiousapproach, but sad to say a great tax loss to the city’s annual budget. This council recently invested millions of dollars onimproving the streets and underground services in the 100 and 200 blocks of Main Street. The underground service upgradeswere also done to accommodate additional demand for those services if increased development were to happen in thedowntown area.

If council were to decide to allow a youth centre on this very valuable piece of public property, will it encourage a muchneeded growth and investment into the downtown? Will a performing arts centre encourage long-term investment into thedowntown? It doesn’t take much thinking to answer that question. Council will also have to determine whether a youth centrewould survive as long as a state-of-the-art performing arts centre on that prime piece of real estate? Sad to say I very muchdoubt it.

Granted the SOPAC campaign has been ongoing for a number of years. Yes, it will need substantial funding for it to become areality, but most important of all it needs councils support and endorsement to encourage its development. As previousforward thinking councils had decided, when they assembled those two properties. It was a planning vision that the pastcouncils endorsed to encourage development along Ellis Street. It is the way councils should decide how valuable propertyshould be held for the greatest return for the future of the city.

The performing arts centre project would have a better chance of happening if this council also got behind the project.Endorse it, send the message out there as other cities have done and who have found not just private investors but otherlevels of governments. I am not opposed to a youth centre, just don’t give away valuable city property to construct it.

This council was offered the old bingo hall on Eckhardt Avenue, this would be an ideal site for the youth centre. I wouldencourage council to make your decision on a vision for downtown.

Jake Kimberley

Penticton