The City of Penticton says it has paid off the final construction loan on the South Okanagan Events Centre. Western News file photo

Debt retired on SOEC construction cost

A decade after it opened, loans for constructing the South Okanagan Events Centre have been paid

A decade after the doors opened on the South Okanagan Events Centre, the City of Penticton has finished paying off the construction loans obtained from the Municipal Finance Authority of B.C.

Peter Urbanc, Municipal Finance Authority CAO, Coun. Katie Robinson, Jack Kler, former director of corporate services, Mayor John Vassilaki, Couns. Jake Kimberley and Frank Regehr show off the mortgage release from the MFA for SOEC construction loans. Submitted photo

“The South Okanagan Events Centre has become an economic driver for Penticton, and now its construction has been paid for,” said Coun. Jake Kimberley, who championed the project during his term as mayor from 2005 to 2008.

“This is a great Christmas present for our community.”

The SOEC is comprised of a 5000-seat multi-purpose arena and smaller community rink which, according to the 2018 SOEC Economic Impact Report, generated approximately $10.2M in spending by event participants this year.

Related: Event participants at SOEC campus generate $24.9 million

“The successful completion of a project of this scale and magnitude for a community of 33,000 people was a notable achievement when the SOEC opened,” said Mayor John Vassilaki.

“That achievement has continued forward to today thanks to prudent financial planning that enabled the construction of the SOEC to be paid in full only ten years later.”

Financing through Municipal Finance Authority was divided into three individual loans, with the first $8-million loan paid down in 2012, a second $8-million loan paid down in 2017 and the final $10-million loan paid off this year.

“The negotiation of the funding from the BC Lottery Corp and the subsequent financing arrangement for the SOEC project were both challenging and rewarding,” said the city’s former director of corporate services, Jack Kler.

“Here we are 10 years later and it is very humbling and gratifying to see the successful conclusion of the debt financing structure that we had initiated.”

Related: Setting the South Okanagan Events Centre financial facts straight

MFABC financing, totalling $39.2 million, was one of four major funding sources used by the city to pay for the project’s entire scope.

The remaining money was acquired through $22.5 million in provincial funding, $13.9 million from city reserves, and $5.6 million from other sources, for a total project cost of $81.2 million.

As of the end of 2018, $35.8 million of the debt has now been retired, including all debt related directly to the construction of the SOEC building itself and another $7 million used to relocate sports fields to Queens Park.

Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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