Majority of Kamloops candidates support an arts center

The referendum scheduled for April 2020 was canceled due to the arrival of the pandemic

A majority of mayoral and councilor candidates would support a plan to build a new performing-arts center if elected, a survey by Kamloops Center for the Arts Society has found.

Kamloops Center for the Arts Society issued a survey to candidates ahead of the Oct. 15 municipal elections. It canvassed mayoral and council hopefuls, asking them about not only their support to build a new center, but about funding and more.

Of the five people running for mayor, four candidates responded. Of 23 council candidates, 19 responded. Candidates who did not respond to the survey included mayoral hopeful Ray Dhaliwal and council candidates Caroline King, Francois Lambert, Reo Rocheleau and Bill Sarai.

According to the survey, all four mayoral candidates who responded (Dieter Dudy, Reid Hamer-Jackson, Sadie Hunter and Arjun Singh) said yes to supporting a plan to build a new arts center.

Dudy said he has supported the idea throughout his time on council and has “vowed to make it a reality when I sit as mayor.” Singh said he was “very sad” the referendum planned for April 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he would work with arts center proponents to update plans, if needed. During the campaign, Singh has called for private opportunities to reduce operating costs of the facility. His comments in the survey suggest he wants to see a new referendum scheduled in 2023. Hamer-Jackson suggested reviewing the proposal to go “bigger” and include a convention center and recreation center.

Of the 18 council candidates who responded, 16 said they would support a plan to build a new performing-arts center, if elected.

Those candidates include Dale Bass, Nancy Bepple, Bonnie Cleland, George Dersch, Mac Gordon, Kelly Hall, Stephen Karpuk, Darrell LaRiviere, Margot Middleton, Daphane Nelson, Katie Neustaeter, Mike O’Reilly, Jordon Proctor, Jesse Ritcey, Taj Sandur and Randy Sunderman.

Jamie Allen said he was opposed, citing the need for more information. Dennis Giesbrecht said the city needs an updated proposal.

Hall said the project should get started because delays are “costing all of us.” LaRiviere said he would only support the project with contributions from other levels of government. Neustaeter said she was a “champion” for the project before the canceled 2020 referendum, but noted the right time and plan needed to be considered. Sunderman said he wants the facility to primarily focus on supporting youth and be within the scope of the original budget.

Ritcey wants to see the project packaged with other recreational opportunities, such as a new pool. O’Reilly said he wants a funding program for the entire recreational master plan, with the PAC to open by the end of this council term. Sandur wants to see housing constructed above the facility to generate revenue and subsidize capital costs, while alleviating housing pressures.

Candidates were also asked if they believe the city should be one of the primary funders of the project. Dudy and Hamer-Jackson said no. Hunter and Singh said yes. Dudy said he believes the arts center will benefit people within the region and should be shared with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, Thompson Rivers University and, possibly, Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc.

Singh said the city should be one of the primary funders of the project because it should be a public facility. He said he would bring his expertise with provincial and federal government partnerships to secure grants and work to reduce the operating subsidy by planning the building for maximum revenue generation.

Results of the survey did not include Darpan Sharma. Kamloops This Week has reached out to the Kamloops Center for the Arts Society for clarification on whether he participated in the survey and, if so, what his responses were.

To read full results of the survey, go online to

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