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October 28, 2017 12:25 am

PAC Society remains optimistic

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 @ 3:58 AM

Prince George, B.C.- Prince George City Council didn’t put the brakes on the  plans for a performing arts centre  at its meeting on Monday night,   instead,  a new workplan with specific deadlines was  delivered.

Chair of the Prince George Regional Performing Arts  Society, Marnie Hamagami says there were no surprises  “We felt this was sort of the next step.  The other thing I think is  important to remember from the perspective of the committee, is  that  we were  never under any sort of illusion that this was sort of a light switch project,  it’s the kind  of thing that takes  multiple steps and takes  years in the planning.  When we’re talking about the kinds of money we’re talking about, it’s important to be deliberate and consider what we’re doing.”

The kind of money  being talked about is a project that is  expected to cost $51.05 million  for construction, and as much as $820 thousand  annually for operations.  It has always been  the plan that the private sector  would  kick in about 10% of the  capital cost with the three levels of government  each picking up one third of the balance.

Senior  government  involvement has been a non starter up until  the new Federal Government announced it would  make $60 Billion dollars  available for infrastructure grants.  Mayor Hall is hopeful  the Performing Arts Centre could  qualify  under the “Social Infrastructure” grants that will be available under that new funding  umbrella.  But even if the project  qualifies for  a share of those dollars,  there would still need to be  money  from the Provincial Government, and  in 2014 indications were that such funding would not be available for another 5-8 years.

“One of the things that has been lost in all of this,  is that it is, and always has been, a City project” says Hamagami “The Performing Arts  Centre Society was a committee struck at the will of Council,  it has  delivered  and continues to deliver its mandate, and  this is really a City project.”

One of the  tasks in the workplan calls for  the development of a consultation plan,  which Hamagami says  will be a valuable exercise “That’s probably one of the most challenging and delicate parts.  Certainly we’ve seen a lot of comments floating around the community that show us just how much misinformation is out  there in terms of what this project is, what its needs are, what the City obligation would be.  Most of that misunderstanding comes around the financial piece.”  She says the City’s contribution would not exceed one third, and there was never any thought that  the City would shoulder  the entire  burden.

Hamagami says this is about  infrastructure dollars being spent in the north “One of the challenges we have is that a lot of  the time, the resource dollars we extract and send to the south, we don’t see them back in  the same proportion that we would like to, so  here’s a great project that  could bring some of those tax dollars back into  the community.”

As it sits,   there are  some options for the City to  find its share of funding for the project:

  • Could use  a portion of the legacy funds from the Terasen Gas lease in/lease out agreement (expected to be about $24 million)
  • Could use some of the Federal  Gas  tax revenue
  • A combination of the two  above
  • Proceeds of sale  from land sales ( including  the  P.G. Playhouse property)
  • Borrow some
  • increase the tax levy  (estimated to  add 1.28%-1.68% to  the tax levy)

Hamagami says Monday’s Council discussion on the  Performing Arts Centre didn’t produce  anything that would make them  less optimistic about the project “In fact  I think this Council has brought this project further along than any of the Council’s before it,  so it’s certainly something they’ve all expressed support for in theory and they are all expressing concerns  about the financial plan.”

“The Performing  Arts Centre is a major piece in the landscape of a vibrant community” says Hamagami “I think it is every bit as important as a robust and diverse sport landscape in our community.”


Increase my taxes?? Why not take this idea to a referendum? Has the PAC committee done any fund raising?

My thoughts as well oldman1…
where is their plan to get money for a PAC
and why are the rest of us going to pay for the entertainment of up to 800 people. (the 800 was the figure the PAC has been throwing around as a seating capacity for the new PAC)
Shouldn’t the three venues we have now for use be “USED” fully,first?

but I expect if push comes to shove the city will hold another of those famous “Alternate Approval Processes”

in my mind no decision one way or the other is a “yes” vote for the PAC from council.

They seem to have shown since being elected that they care more about “WANTS” than what he city “NEEDS” or it is they can’t distinguish between them, in which care resign and get someone in there that can.

A recent report on this PAC said that the Council would instruct the PAC Society that it must get engaged in discussions and involvement with the community and to start some fund raising initiatives! What has happened with that?

I would certainly buy a membership and tickets to a PAC Lottery Home or some such things. That would be in line with the City’s wish that the PAC Society ought to start fund raising and thereby express its seriousness and determination. There is a lot of talk by the PAC Society, how about starting the walk!

A PAC is luxury for communities that can afford to subsidize the culture vultures, not a necessity for sure. Infrastructure is facilities that are necessary for an country or city to function. Sewage treatment plants, merge lanes and street widening qualify, but not concert halls or art galleries.

Both sides on this issue sound like a broken record.

Some people just do not get along, others do not know how to manage a controversial project through the public venue.

This project has been mishandled for the past 40+ years since the idea of building a large City owned theatre was first raised, at about the same time that Kelowna, a city smaller than PG at the time, decided to build a theatre.

Hamagami is absolutely right. The current reincarnation of building a PAC, which is different than a single theatre, was a City project from the start. They had the money set aside to do a study. They wanted a separate society to do the management of the study and report to Council. Not to Administration. Administration was never involved from the reporting point of view.

The story that is not being told here is that this City actually did not know, when they took power, that the project from the Society’s point of view was completed. Their mandate was never to be a cheerleader for the PAC, nor to fundraise independently. Another organization should be formed to do that. Many other communities had such “cheerleading” organizations.

To people like contractor, on that basis of understanding of what a City’s infrastructure is, let get rid of the following publicly funded infrastructure buildings – some federally, provincially and municipally

Hospitals, schools, non-market housing, arenas (we have two of those), ice rinks, conference centres, art galleries, museums, parks, trails, theatres, public markets, parking garages, and on and on it goes.

Let’s gauge the appetite for a PAC by having a membership drive and a referendum. Why? Because we already have several venues that are used for performing arts!

Being an ex board member for the PAC why don’t you go through the project from the societies point of view or are you bound by a gag order GUS?

Prince Rupert built a wonderful 700 seat facility in 1987. The Lester Centre of the Arts has over 120 performances per year, and over 420 bookings of facility use. It has a modern sound system, an unobstructed view from all seats. It’s run by a non-profit organization for the City of Prince Rupert.

In PG we have Vanier Hall which is run by SD57 at their pleasure, with crap sound, brutal seating, puny green rooms, a decrepit fly tower, and no staging wings. The PG Playhouse should simply be knocked down. You say the facilities are currently underused. That’s because they’re complete crap.

Whether you nay-sayers like it or not, the Arts are a part of the important infrastructure of a healthy city, especially in the north. The arts bring people together as a community.

You want me to pony-up? Sure, where do I sign? I couldn’t give a rats arse if my taxes went up to pay for it. I could argue why am I paying school taxes when I have no children, and I only use the schools when it’s time to vote.

Prince Rupert built their facility by the generous donations of the fisherman. They understood the importance of such a facility. Apparently you lot don’t.

We certainly don’t need this silly PAC. Nope, not now not later. The economy is in the dumps and all the council can do is dream up stupid ideas.
Lets try figure out how to clean up some of the downtown PG first.

Posted on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 @ 8:39 AM by Brother Gecko

Prince Rupert built their facility by the generous donations of the fisherman. They understood the importance of such a facility. Apparently you lot don’t.

Being able to flush my toilet is important. A PAC is nice, but neither necessary nor important.

If you can find enough people/business to generously donate enough to build such a facility I doubt anyone would object. What we do object to is being required to pay for nice frivolities when infrastructure upgrading is begging for money and we’re already taxed more than enough.

Do we need a new PAC. No.
I am a member of the PGSO, they don’t fill the venue like they used too. Membership has certainly decreased over the years, why? I don’t think it because the venue is old or crappy, I just think there is not enough interest. A new facility won’t change this.

If Brownies and Girl Guides can sell cookies for their activities , how about the PAC society start their fund- raising adventures? If Parents in schools can do fund raising for adventure playgrounds etc., then let see the the PAC society do the same or is it below them to lower themselves and expect taxpayers to foot the bill for a luxury of a few.

So sorry! I love classical music but I am very selective about what I like to hear. The PGSO most of the time features music which is not my preference. I have a collection of CDs of music by my favourite composers and orchestras and great stereo equipment to enjoy it with.

For PAC events I would be only a very occasional visitor. It would have to be something very exceptional, like a staging of a Mozart opera, for instance.

I agree with oldman1. It looks to me as if they expect the taxpayers to come up with every cent! Now that the Terasen Gas lease in/lease out agreement of about $24 million money may soon become available for something they are all jostling to be first in line to get the biggest chunk!

The substantial expense (deficit) of maintaining and running the facility is another issue which needs to be addressed. What if attendance figures are below expectations, quite likely in today’s overly maxed out society where bread on the table and credit card debt have higher priorities? The City would have to step up again and pay the bills.

Brother Gecko,

“Prince Rupert built their facility by the generous donations of the fisherman. They understood the importance of such a facility. Apparently you lot don’t.”

that says it all right there.

There is absolutely no reason to have any public funding involved with a PAC. You want it? You raise the funds to build it and you charge enough to keep it running. QED.

There is absolutely no reason to have any public funding involved with a PAC


Well that’s simply not true. There are many reasons to inject public funding into a facility like a PAC. Here are some:

1) The venue would provide recreational opportunities for people living in the city.
2) It would provide the people living in the city with a facility they could rent and/or utilize for various purposes.
3) The facility could be used by community groups, such as schools, for various functions.
4) There is no other facility in the city that performs the functions that a PAC would.
5) A building like a PAC would have a very difficult time being built solely with private funds.
6) The facility would serve the entire community and region.

If you look at that list, you’ll see that all of these reasons apply to every other public facility in PG, like the ice rinks, the swimming pools, soccer fields, the Norther Sports Centre, the Civic Centre, etc.

I can see being against a particular project, but for this one, I think many people let their bias get in the way of logic.

If you look at that list, you’ll see that all of these reasons apply to every other public facility in PG, like the ice rinks, the swimming pools, soccer fields, the Norther Sports Centre, the Civic Centre, etc.


I believe the number of people using the ice rinks, swimming pools and soccer fields is far greater then the number of people who would utilize a PAC. I think the number or people using the PAC per month would be measured in the hundreds, hardly enough to justify forking over $50 million for one. Kin 1 cost us $15 million (way too much in my opinion but that’s another story) and is used by over a thousand people a month.

The Northern Sports Center appears to be well used but the Civic Center sits idle most of the time.

“I can see being against a particular project, but for this one, I think many people let their bias get in the way of logic.”

It is of course impossible that people who are FOR the project have would let any of their bias get in the way of their logic.

Posted on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 @ 11:52 AM by NMG

If you look at that list, you’ll see that all of these reasons apply to every other public facility in PG, like the ice rinks, the swimming pools, soccer fields, the Norther Sports Centre, the Civic Centre, etc.

Whether the reasons apply or not is irrelevant unless it is affordable. Most of the commenters here are of the opinion that it isn’t, thus negating every reason you could come up with.

It is of course impossible that people who are FOR the project have would let any of their bias get in the way of their logic


No, that’s quite possible as well. For example, proclaiming that a PAC would somehow cause professionals to flock to PG is a bit over the top IMHO.

Affordability is absolutely a consideration. What people completely ignore though, is that the Feds and the Province would have to contribute to this project to get it built. Heck, the city may be able to get away with coming up with the land or using proceeds from a land sale to fund it. They may not have to fund any of the construction costs through capital funding.

That would then leave the operating costs and even the most ardent opponent would have a hard time, if they were being genuine, with saying that the annual operating subsidy would pose a financial burden to the city.

With the job loss thats in our City right now I can’t see people wanting to fund a PAC its probably the last thing on their minds. The City needs to think about making money not spending it, we are in tough times.

Infrastructure grant of $60 B? Spread all across Canada. City Hall, please think infrastructure, ie: Sewer pipes, water pipes, lighting, paving, river parks, and don’t forget the promise made re: Haldi Road. After all that is done, then you have my blessings as a taxpayer to consider the silly PAC.

Taxpayers in Hart Highlands paying for the sewer and road paving..and PAC is needed?

Maybe we should start smaller….get an Imax Theater in town first.

LOL Jim! Imax? I’d be happy with an UltraAVX. What Cineplex has in PG is bordering the poor condition of the ol’ Odeon of yore. But that’s another rant all together.

There is no need for an Alternative Approval Process unless the City wants to borrow some money for the project. If they want to borrow then they need to get approval from the taxpayers. What that means is if roughly 5,500 people sign the petition opposing the borrowing then they cannot borrow.

Sooooo. The City will most likely avoid an AAP or a Referendum because there is a good chance that it would kill the project.

It is likely the funding will go something like this. $15 Million from the Fed’s and Province, $6 Million from business and citizens. $5 Million in land contributed by the City. This leaves approx. $11 Million for the City to come up with. This money could be accessed through the Gas Tax Fund, or some other fund, and Walla, there’s your funding.

So, if that’s the route they chose to go, then the Citizens of Prince George should rather, than try to stall this project, should, ensure that the Performing Arts Centre, is such that it meets the needs of all the Citizens of Prince George, and not just those who want a stand alone PAC.

In other words much like NMG has pointed out, we need to ensure that the facility is open to all taxpayers and citizens, and they have access to use the building and surrounding area for all kinds of things in addition to just a PAC/.

As a matter of interest in November of this year the City of Kamloops voted down their $49 Million PAC in a referendum. So I suggest that referendum will be avoided.

Have a nice day.

The Conservative Government renewed the Gas Tax Fund in 2013 and as a result there will be $22 Billion available for infrastructure programs over the next 10 years. BC’s portion would be approx. $1.5 billion based on a per capita basis. At the same time the Conservative Government changed the criteria for getting this money, and added cultural and sports projects.

So we have money available in the Gas Tax Fund for a least a portion of the $11 Million that the City needs, and of course there are also funds that would be available through land sales. So I don’t see a funding problem if the Provinces, and the Fed’s come through with their $15 Million each. That money from a Federal perspective could become available through the additional infrastructure promised by the Trudeau Government.

The Gas Tax Money of $1.5 Billion for BC is based on per capita funding, and Prince George could access money in relationship to their population. This $1.5 Billion would be available on an annual basis for the next 10 years. Our portion would be in the area of $3 Million per year.

The elephant in the room is the cost of running this facility on a yearly basis. Seems this cost will be in the area of $800,000.00 annually. So here is where the real problem lies. We need to find a way to cover off the maintenance and other costs without going to the taxpayers.

oldaman1: “Taxpayers in Hart Highlands paying for the sewer and road paving”

Everyone who owns a residential property in PG has paid for the cost of the property when they bought it. If it did not include sewer service, or water service, or paved roads, they paid less for those properties than they would have for a property with those services.

Around the time I bought a property which was included with those services say in the mid 1970s, the serviced lots would have been in the $10,000 range. Depending on the location, those lots are now assessed in the $100,000 to $130,000.

I assume that the Hart area in question at the moment was selling lots without sewer hook-up at say $6,000 to $7,000.

What you are seeing is the inflation in construction cost. There was a saving of $3,000 then had to install a septic field for say $2,000 at the time. Well, that connection now costs 10 times as much, not only because of inflation, but also because one has to dig up lawns, pavement, roads, curbs, trees, etc.

It is a choice the homeowner made at the time and subsequent purchasers of the property from any homeowners from the original one onwards.

BTW, the Port Theatre cost Nanaimo in the order of $11 million (construction cost). To build the same facility today (a single theatre) would likely come in at around $30 to $35 million plus design costs which would add about 15%+ due to the special nature of the building.

For some strange reason everything costs more than it did 150 years ago. Socredible can explain why. :-)

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