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Curtain drops on theatre plan

The Penticton council has voted to stick with the status quo in regards to a restrictive covenant being placed on properties at the corner of Nanaimo Avenue and Ellis Street.

The 4-2 vote at Monday's meeting, followed presentations by former mayor Jake Kimberley on behalf of the South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre, SOPAC, that the covenant be placed on the property.

"My concern was I don't see heavy fundraising or heavy recruiting or a current business plan for this project," said Councillor Helena Konanz, who voted against it.

Kimberley first gave a presentation on the matter at the Aug. 5 meeting, and appeared before council again this week..

At a Wednesday press conference, Kimberley said he was extremely disappointed that a majority of council failed to understand the request made by SOPAC at the meeting.

The request, he said, was purposely placed before council to protect the investment made through residents/business tax dollars for the future construction of a purpose built performing arts centre at Nanaimo and Ellis.

"The request before council was specific to the issue that a restrictive covenant is placed on the properties before any decision by any council be made to sell/lease this valuable publicly owned land," he said. "If a covenant were to be placed on these properties, it would required an elected council, whoever decides to dispose of the properties to inform the public by advertising a purposely held public meeting.

This would allow the public the opportunity to voice their interest on use and possible disposal/rezoning of their propertiies before any decision by council is made. In denying SOPAC's request for a covenant they have denied the right of taxpayers to have that opportunity."

Kimberley added it was disappointing  that some council members insisted on having a business plan presented by SOPAC before they could vote in favour of the covenant.

"As I put forward to council, a business plan has absolutely no bearing on the decision before council," he said. "The request was simply for an issue of legislative land use. Which as stated several times on Monday would allow the public to have their say in the matters of publicly owned land. I am disappointed that senior staff did not direct members of council on what this proposal meant."

Mayor Garry Litke would also like to see the theatre happen, calling it a piece of unfinished business on his agenda.

"I supported the land purchase and I support the vision," he said. "The city has done a graphic and we are able to sustain a 900 seat theatre. It is really sad to not see this happen."

Kimberley's next step on behalf of SOPAC will be to ask the mayor and/or 2/3 members of council to rescind and reconsider their recent decision.



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