Performing arts centre dead in the water: Faulkner
With city council expanding its Top 10 list of new budget priorities to 11 Wednesday night, there was one contentious item missing from the list.
A new performing arts centre is not there and now a prominent arts supporter believes replacing Centennial Hall may now have to wait almost a decade.
“We'll probably never see a performing arts centre at the earliers, probably seven or eight years down the road,” says former police chief Murray Faulkner, who is on the Performing Arts Centre Task Force.
Eight years ago a consultant concluded Centennial Hall is nearing the end of its serviceable life.
Faulkner says taxpayers will continue to sink millions into keeping the old facility going because council doesn't believe replacing it is a priority.
He says council's decision at Wednesday’s special budget meeting lacked the necessary political leadership to replace Centennial Hall with a new performing arts centre.
Earlier this year, council rejected the Celebration Centre proposal that was backed by the task force.
Mayor Matt Brown could not be reached Thursday, but had said at the time that a performing arts centre would still be considered in the multi-year budget.
Though it remains a part of the strategic plan, senior city staff confirm to CTV News that no other work is underway at city hall to develop a performing arts centre proposal.
Without new funding for the next four years, Faulkner believes London's next council will inherit the problem of replacing Centennial Hall.
Maintaining Centennial Hall is the recommendation contained in a report going to a city hall committee next week.
On top of the average annual management fee of $115,000 a year, the hall, it’s estimated, will continue to require another $280,000 a year in maintenance, upgrades and repairs.
That's $1.2 million over the next four-year budget.
Faulkner believes his pessimism after council rejected the Celebration Centre design is now confirmed.
“Our committee felt that this was dead in the water for this council and obviously it is dead in the water.”
Council approved a list of 11 priorities Wednesday that staff will develop business cases for new funding over the next four years.