November 13, 2013 - 4:29 PM
VERNON - The point of a visitor centre is to put information at the tips of tourists’ fingertips, but a local politician fears the city is moving away from that goal with a cost-cutting decision to centralize services in what he says is the wrong location.
The city recently decided to combine Vernon’s two existing visitor centres under one roof on 39 Ave. next to Civic Arena. The move, which will happen in the spring, is expected to save the city around $60,000 to $70,000 a year. The idea is to put the saved dollars back into tourism marketing.
Lone opposition comes from Coun. Bob Spiers, who says the new location is not only hard to find, but hard to get to. The busy intersection of 39 Ave. and Highway 97 has no left-turn signal. Spiers predicts this will have tourists white-knuckling it across the highway and also backing up traffic as they wait for openings.
“It will cause more people to just drive right through,” Spiers says.
City staff cite several reasons for choosing the 39 Ave. location. First, they say it’s close to downtown and accessible by Vernon’s two main arteries, 27 St. and Highway 97. It’s also near the sani-dump, which the city states will be convenient for those traveling in recreational vehicles. Another perk is that the building is already owned by the city.
“I like the idea of saving costs to the taxpayers, but it’s the wrong location,” Spiers says.
Some $292,215 will be spent renovating the building before it opens in the spring. There are potential plans to create a park in the area to attract visitors and locals alike, the city says, but only if Civic Arena closes.
“Most people stop to take a break, go to the toilet... But they won’t go out of their way to find it (visitor centre),” Spiers says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013