November 29, 2015 - 1:05 PM
VERNON – The voters of Greater Vernon have spoken, although not many of them, giving the go-ahead to local government to build a new arena in Vernon.
The referendum to borrow $13.2 million to build a new arena next to Kal Tire Place to replace the 77-year-old Civic Arena passed on Saturday, Nov. 28, with 4,265 ballots cast in favour and 3,331 against.
Vernon mayor Akbal Mund says he is very disappointed with the low voter turnout.
He says about 7,600 of the approximately 47,000 eligible voters in Vernon, Coldstream and Electoral Areas B and C cast a ballot.
Mund isn’t sure why turnout was so low but speculates it might have something to do with the time of year.
“It’s that time of season. Lots of people doing lots of different things. Sometimes people just forget. I know it’s a busy time of year for everybody,” he says.
Cameron Grant, the spokesperson for the arena advocacy group, figures the people who didn’t vote in the referendum either couldn’t get out and vote, or didn’t really care one way or the other.
According to the North Okanagan Regional District, the annual cost for a home assessed at $350,000 will be $24 a year for 20 years.
That works out to about $2.00 a month for average property taxpayer, which Grant says is really nothing.
“If people didn’t have a reason to oppose it or vote in favour of it I think they just decided not to come out,” he says.
Along with providing much needed space for sports like hockey, ringette, lacrosse, figure skating and speed skating, Grant says the new twin facility will open up other possibilities like trade shows or bonspiels.
Despite the voter apathy, mayor Mund says he’s happy they can “move forward” with what they need to do.
Construction of the twin ice sheet now goes to tender and Mund says the first job will be preloading the site.
He expects ground to be broken by May or June of 2016 with construction complete by late 2017 or early 2018.
Previous articles on the arena project can be found here.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015