$4M needs to be raised in community for Greater Vernon Cultural Centre | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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$4M needs to be raised in community for Greater Vernon Cultural Centre

Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Regional District of North Okanagan
September 25, 2020 - 11:08 AM

Two years after the public gave the project the green light, politicians have agreed to the budget for the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre enabling a grant application to be submitted one week before a make-or-break deadline.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee hashed out the details of the centre's financials at a four-hour-long meeting, Sept. 23, settling on where the money to build to the $40 million Cultural Centre will come from.

The decision comes just days before the deadline for $10.5 million federal and provincial grant applications. Rules and timelines surrounding referendums and borrowing mean if the application was not submitted on time, the entire project could be put in jeopardy.

A referendum held in the fall of 2018 authorized the borrowing of the $25 million to build the centre estimated at the time to cost $40 million. The new budget estimates the Centre to come in at $39.5 million.

North Okanagan Regional District Area 'B' director Bob Fleming said the financial plan agreed to cements how the capital costs will be covered. Fleming said along with the $25 million agreed to at the referendum, the Regional District was now applying for $10.5 in provincial and federal government grants, with the $4 million shortfall set to be covered by donations from within the community.

"Consultants that were hired went through an elaborate business planning process to see what they felt was reasonable to try to raise in this community," Fleming said. "And the $4 million figure is what they came up with."

In an effort to cut estimated operating costs the directors also agreed to shrink the physical size of the building by 21 per cent taking it to 45,750 square feet from the original 57,950 square feet.

Fleming said this will mean the physical archives will stay in its current building, but the museum aspect of the Cultural Centre will have digital access through terminals at the centre. The original idea that been to move the entire Great Vernon Museum and Archives to the new centre.

While the grants applications are in, and the site 32 Avenue is currently in the process of being bought from the City of Vernon, the day-to-day costs of running the centre have yet to be finalized.

"That's the problem that has to be solved in the next one to three years," Fleming said. "The shortfall in operating is not huge... there are still conversations that have to take place as to how that will happen."

The director said it was "extremely unlikely" construction would start before 2022, with occupancy possibly taking place in 2023.

According to a staff report, annual visitor projection to the Cultural Centre is estimated to be 60,000 with the Centre creating 16 new jobs and having a direct economic benefit of $500,000 and an indirect benefit of between $1 million and $1.4 million.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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