Performing Arts Centre Proposal Put Off

A draft image of the proposed "Celebration Centre" if it were to be built on the site of the current Centennial Hall.

London may yet get a performing arts centre, but whether it does or not won’t be decided by this council.

The Investment and Economic Prosperity Committee voted 5-0 Tuesday afternoon to send the proposal back to staff for more information.

Novita consultant Brian Arnott was on hand to make a presentation to the committee. He said that the centre wouldn’t give a return because it’s a public amenity. That prompted Ward 10 Councilor Paul van Meerbergen to ask the question, “It’s clear they don’t make money. How much do they lose?”

Mayor Joni Baechler questioned about the appeal for millennials. Arnott replied that Novita has done its research on the younger demographic but different ages like different things.

Councillors were also curious about how much money the city could get from the province through the Ontario Music Fund.

In the end, City Manager Art Ziudema said making decisions without all the answers is premature, and to “let (city staff) do the work.”

Music London representative Scott Ritchie accepts that council still needs answers to some questions.

“We have detailed all of the operating costs. What this committee is saying is that they want them vetted, and that’s fair game,” he says. “We are satisfied that they’ll stand up, but they need the advice from administration.”

The proposed centre is expected to cost $164-million and include an 1,800 seat concert hall and attached condominiums