January 02, 2014 - 9:13 AM
VERNON - It’s been a busy year in politics for the Vernon area. Between a provincial election, a successful bid for a new sports facility, and talk of municipal reform, there’s not only lots to look back on, but much to be unveiled in 2014.
In May, incumbent MLA Eric Foster earned himself another four years as the voice of the Vernon/ Monashee riding with 46.87 per cent of the vote. Foster said he wasn’t surprised by local or provincial results that night, though others were. Analysts predicted a comfortable NDP majority and Liberal defeat for the province, but they got the opposite. The Liberals, led by premier Christy Clark swept up 44.4 per cent of the popular vote.
Earlier in the year, Greater Vernon residents voted in favour of a new $7.5 million sports complex. Construction started in October 2013 beside Okanagan College and is expected to wrap up in the fall of 2014. The facility will bring a regulation-sized track to Vernon and allow the city to host events like the B.C. Summer Games and the B.C. Senior Games. It will include a regulation-sized synthetic track, a regulation-sized synthetic turf field, a natural turf field, seating for four hundred spectators, a classroom, change-rooms and bathroom facilities.
Meanwhile, a referendum for a new art gallery and renovated museum is also on the horizon. Regional District of North Okanagan staff are working alongside gallery and museum representatives to explore the idea and bring a well-researched proposal to the public. A referendum had been set for this spring, but politicians recently postponed it.
Another attempt has been launched to rework municipal structures and amalgamate Greater Vernon into one governance body. The Society for the Future Governance of Greater Vernon has garnered 2,930 signatures from the affected jurisdictions of Vernon, Coldstream, and Electoral areas B and C. The group is now working towards a study on the pros and cons of amalgamation.
The final phase of the city’s downtown revitalization project wrapped up this summer, boasting wider sidewalks, new street furniture and lighting, as well as upgraded infrastructure underfoot. Downtown businesses were divided on the $2.2 million project, worrying of financial losses during the construction period. Despite any lost business during the three month road work, the City says in the long-term, the improvements will bring economic benefit.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014