SOPAC looking for political support

Local organization trying to show potential mayors how a dedicated performing arts centre could be built in Penticton.

A new, dedicated performing arts centre may be a long ways off in Penticton’s future, but that isn’t stopping a local organization from trying to show potential mayors how it is done.

The South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre society is holding their annual general meeting Wednesday, and they invited Sigrid-Ann Thors, president of the Vernon and District Perform Arts Centre as guest speaker.

She’s coming, said Jake Kimberley, SOPAC president, to talk about how Vernon achieved building their centre. Kimberley said he has invited all three mayoral candidates to come listen to her speech.

“I think they can get some of the answers they need to look at whether we can achieve this in Penticton, the same as Vernon has,” said Kimberley. “I just want them to realize that the land is there and the opportunity is there, not today, but maybe in the future that we can develop this project and see it influence the economy of the downtown, that is really where it is at.”

The new mayor and council will be in office for a four-year term, and Kimberley said in that length of time, it might be possible to get the SOPAC project off the ground.

For now, Kimberley is still hoping the current council will reconsider its decision not to put a restrictive covenant on the empty lot that is the proposed site for SOPAC on the corner of Ellis and Nanaimo. He’s already talked to a couple of councillors who voted against the motion earlier this year and are willing to reconsider.

“Whether they will or not, I don’t know,” said Kimberley. “We are not  going to lose sight of that. We feel the land is worth now about $2.4 million.  It’s a valuable piece of public property that we feel should be taken to the public in the event that something other than a performing arts centre were to be constructed there.”

The AGM takes place  at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 in the Shatford Centre, 760 Main St. The public is welcome to attend the meeting.