City council votes to let Winter Carnival Society stay in building | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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City council votes to let Winter Carnival Society stay in building

Vernon City Hall
January 07, 2019 - 4:22 PM

VERNON - The Vernon Winter Carnival Society will be allowed to stay in its flood-prone building indefinitely thanks to a council decision which also removed certain financial requirements for the group.

At today's, Jan. 7, meeting city council passed a motion permitting the Winter Carnival Society to remain in its building on 35 Avenue.

The building, which has suffered severe structural damage over the years due to flooding, even receiving an end-of-life-cycle designation, according to a report to council from chief administrative officer Will Pearce, was scheduled for demolition in 2018.

The Society fought the order, requesting more time in the building as they search for an alternate location. Council granted the request with certain caveats.

As a result of council's decision, the Society must take on all liability for the building. The CAO's report also recommended the Society be required to pay for annual air quality and structural assessments and to leave the building no later than May 1, 2020. Several councillors objected to these last two recommendations.

"Some of these conditions are overkill," said Coun. Kari Gares.

Gares outlined that annual assessments, particular structural ones, can rack up huge bills. She posited that mandated assessments would be costly and excessive for the group.

"We've stacked the deck and made it difficult for them to accept [the proposal]," she said.

Gares suggested such assessments be left to the Society's discretion. Coun. Scott Anderson agreed with Gares' position, stating that the city's primary concern should be with liability.

"The Society doesn't need us to hold their hands," he said.

Pearce and Coun. Akbal Mund both argued that while other conditions in the proposal remove the city from liability, the mandatory assessments could provide an extra layer of distance.

"We are concerned about the structural integrity of the building," Pearce said.

Mund and Coun. Kelly Fehr raised concerns about the condition of the building, noting how it was set for demolition before this debate began.

Gares said the Society is aware of the risks entailed with staying in the building. She also said the May 1, 2020 deadline should be changed to an indefinite time to give the Society time to find an appropriate location.

"I don't think the Society is naive," Gares said. "They're simply asking to buy time."

Council voted to amend the motion to exclude the mandated assessments and the 2020 deadline. The new motion passed 3-2, with Mund and Fehr voting against it.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Sean Mott or call (250) 864-7494 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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