September 30, 2015 - 11:30 AM
VERNON - It’s crunch time for local government officials looking to hold a November borrowing referendum for a new Vernon ice sheet.
The City of Vernon wants to decommission the aging Civic Arena and add a second ice sheet to Kal Tire Place — but has had to jump through some hoops just to bring the topic to voters. The original plan was to put the question on the fall 2014 municipal election ballot, but at the time, the Inspector of Municipalities refused to authorize the referendum. The problem was in having the North Okanagan Regional District borrow the money for a city-owned asset.
Now, local officials have gone back to the province with a new proposal to have the regional district borrow the money and lease the new arena to the City of Vernon — but are still awaiting the green light.
“(The province) told us what to do, that’s what we sent in. I’m pretty sure we should have it back in a week,” Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund says.
Local officials are working on a tight time frame if they want to hold a referendum before people start going on holidays in December and January. Ideally, the referendum would be held before the end of November, but to do that, they need authorization from the province by Oct. 7. Once it gets approval, the regional district has to hold the referendum within 80 days.
Mund says he approached Minister Peter Fassbender at a recent Union of B.C. Municipalities conference and communicated the ‘urgent time constraint.’
“He assured us he would look into it,” Mund says.
The referendum would ask voters to borrow up to $13 million for a second ice sheet at Kal Tire Place. An engineering report revealed Civic Arena has little life left, and could fail at any time. If it did fail, 40 per cent of Greater Vernon ice users would have nowhere to go.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015