Five candidates who won't declare or haven't decided if they support the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre - InfoNews

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Five candidates who won't declare or haven't decided if they support the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre

Multiple coloured pencils.
Image Credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/Jonatan Svensson Glad
October 16, 2018 - 7:00 PM

VERNON - The majority of Vernon city council candidates say that they support the Greater Vernon Culture Centre Proposal.

We wanted to get this down to a yes or no. We asked candidates: Do you support the proposed Greater Vernon Cultural Centre?

While nobody flat out said, "no" there are five candidates who either chose to not share their opinion, or have not made a firm decision either way. That leaves 13 who expressed support for the project, though some seem more sure than others. 

Full responses are available at the bottom of the page.

Yes

Victor Cumming (for mayor): I am now a supporter of the Greater Vernon Culture Centre Proposal. After carefully reviewing an earlier proposal, I was not a supporter because both the capital and operating requirements had not been clearly thought out. I now believe that the concept, as it has been proposed with shared financing between Greater Vernon taxpayers and senior levels of government, will be good value for money spent creating solid social and economic benefits for the community. I look forward to participating in the finalizing of design and street appeal.

Teresa Durning: I agree with the new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre in principal. I agree with anything that stimulates the economy and that benefits our community and downtown core. I am in agreement with the voice of the people. If the people of Vernon are willing to make that sacrifice I will support it. I would be pleased to see continued thought around how we can increase services for the facility branching beyond a new Museum and Art Gallery. Which stakeholders will be housed in the building? What will plan for parking be, and how will the new facility engage Vernon’s families and youth?

Kelly Fehr: Ultimately, as a voter, I do not personally view it as a priority nor is it a facility I would frequent. I do, however, understand that it will not hinder a future aquatic center which is important, and I do believe it is a good project for Vernon, overall. It will add to our social infrastructure beyond athletics and will draw future investments to revitalize the 30 street and 34 avenue area of downtown. Therefore, I will be voting yes in support of a new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre.

Kari Gares: I have always been a firm believer that building an Identity forged from arts and culture is essential is building a strong and diverse community that drives economic sustainability...My only concern is the conceptual design of the building and whether it will meet the needs of a growing community. Aside from this, I believe the City is finally acknowledging the economic impact that a culturally diverse community will have on the broader development for a sustainable society.

Don Jefcoat: I struggled with this for some time.  We don't have drawings or even a business plan. But looking at the numbers I am little more relaxed on the idea. I can afford 80 cents a week to go towards this facility. If people do decide to support this I hope that we see designs and plans fairly quickly.

Jamie Morrow: Yes to a very loud I do. A few people I have talked to have said to me that they are not in favour and that we are mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren. The vast majority of people I have talked to see this as an investment for our children and grandchildren. This is also my view and why I support this. The Arts and Culture sector is a key economic driver that will contribute to our local economy by building a strong and vibrant downtown as well as creating civic engagement. This is a positive investment in our future.

Rick Lavin: I do support the Cultural Centre and will be voting in favor of borrowing the $25M for Vernon’s share of the project.  The net cost per household will be about $12 per year. For every dollar spent on the arts, culture, and heritage we will see a return on investment many times over.  I believe that the Cultural Centre will add an element of beauty to our city, will attract talent and new business to Vernon, and will make our city much more enjoyable. I will be encouraging everyone to vote “YES” on October 20th.

Shawn Lee: I support the borrowing referendum question that would permit the construction of a purpose built facility for the Art Gallery and the Museum; both having long found their current locations increasingly unviable.

A new structure, built to current Museum and Art Gallery standards would allow the reception of world class touring exhibits which now cannot be even considered.  Greater space will allow both facilities to display more of their collections, most of which are now stored and rarely seen by the public.

Gordon Leighton
Gordon Leighton
Image Credit: Facebook

Gordon Leighton: Yes! First of all, let’s be clear that the proposed borrowing of $25-million is not solely a City of Vernon issue.  The referendum initiative by the Regional District is for “Greater Vernon”, which includes Coldstream as well as RDNO areas “B” and “C” (BX / Swan Lake).  I support both the project and the referendum.

Kevin Lepp: I support a proposed new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre. In order to move ahead with these types of larger projects, Council needs to hear from the community via referendum regarding timing and money’s required.  What I am hearing from people of a range of ages is that we are also in need of a new recreational facility with a larger pool, gym facilities, and areas for our kids and community to stay active. I believe we can build a facility through a Private/Public partnership to fund it so that the taxpayers do not bear the whole cost.

Dalvir Nahal: I am whole-heartedly in favor of a new Cultural Centre and the possibility of borrowing up to $25 million dollars. If voters choose to support this in two years time when it comes time to borrow the money and we will have already successfully paid off the Performing Arts Centre and Kal Tire Place ensuring that it does not have a huge impact to our taxes. A new Cultural Centre is an economic priority for this area. The cultural economy is growing rapidly across the nation. Digital Art and Heritage is a massive job creator.  Vernon has been waiting long enough and its time for a new cultural hub downtown.

Darrin Taylor (for mayor): Projects like this do a tremendous amount for civic pride and the vitality of our city. The voters will ultimately decide if this is the time. I will be voting yes because I think it important that we consider the needs of the next generation. I am also mindful of what we must do as a community to make Vernon attractive to those who would invest here or consider raising their families here. Arts and recreation services can be what sets one community apart from another. It will be through attracting investment in Vernon that we will be able to hold the reigns on taxes while providing the services our citizens desire.

Dawn Tucker: The Greater Vernon Cultural Centre is going to referendum for the citizens to determine if the city should borrow $25 million to build.  That being said I do believe as a city we are due for a new museum and art gallery. The museum and art gallery both need more space for display and proper storage areas with climate controls. Not having these things in place has already lost us important artifacts of our history such as Sveva Caetani’s Recapitulation paintings to the Alberta Arts Foundation. We need an art gallery that doesn’t flood and a place we can showcase donations to both locations. 

Other

Dave Deshane: Yes and No. A cultural center is fine, however, I was at a presentation recently and the overwhelming reaction in the room was negative. The proposal seems to keep growing and people find the size of the current ask offensive.

Jasmine Finlay: That should be left up to voters to decide.

Sherrilee Franks: The point of the referendum is to determine if the Arts and Cultural community in the North Okanagan Regional District want the building. This is not a decision for council. My vote is one in 84,000. I fully support the referendum and its outcome.

Terry Vulcano
Terry Vulcano
Image Credit: tvulcano.com

Terry Vulcano: I would need to learn more about the objectives of the proposal and the long term operating costs before making a decision. What kind of increased attendance/revenue is expected?  What will be the additional costs associated with the improved facility. If the referendum falls and I am on Council, I would advocate for the old Library to be the location of the Art Gallery. Being close to the Museum would benefit both.  The Art Gallery deserves to be in a better location than the bottom of a parkade.

Sam Zaharia: I think we have bigger fish to fry, but I do understand the need to make room for more than sports, for sure. Meanwhile, the old Woolworth's building is monstrous and vacant. High ceilings. Central location. Lunch counter. Fries and gravy. Art and culture up, storage below. The old elevator probably still works, too.

 

These six candidates did not respond:

Scott Anderson

Art Gourley

Lily Kerr

Akbal Mund

Erik Olesen

Brian Quiring

 

Full responses:

Jasmine Finlay
Jasmine Finlay
Image Credit: Facebook

Victor Cumming: I am now a supporter of the Greater Vernon Culture Centre Proposal. After carefully reviewing an earlier proposal, I was not a supporter because both the capital and operating requirements had not been clearly thought out. I now believe that the concept, as it has been proposed with shared financing between Greater Vernon taxpayers and senior levels of government, will be good value for money spent creating solid social and economic benefits for the community. I look forward to participating in the finalizing of design and street appeal.

Dave Deshane: Yes and No. A cultural center is fine, however, I was at a presentation recently and the overwhelming reaction in the room was negative. The proposal seems to keep growing and people find the size of the current ask offensive.

Teresa Durning: I agree with the new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre in principal. I agree with anything that stimulates the economy and that benefits our community and downtown core. I am in agreement with the voice of the people. If the people of Vernon are willing to make that sacrifice I will support it. I would be pleased to see continued thought around how we can increase services for the facility branching beyond a new Museum and Art Gallery. Which stakeholders will be housed in the building? What will plan for parking be, and how will the new facility engage Vernon’s families and youth? I am engaging positively with the core team that is assigned to educating the public and see great change in the language and clarity of the uses as of this week. I need to state again that above all else I admire their efforts and although I have questions I admire the years of hard work bringing this to referendum for vote by the citizens of Vernon.

Kelly Fehr: I do not have a strong opinion regarding the development of a new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre. The project will cost the average Vernon household $48 per year for 20 years. Vernon households are currently paying an average of $36 per year towards the original Kal Tire Place and Performing Arts Center which will be ending soon, so the actual increase will ultimately be closer to $12 per year for an average household.

Where I struggle, is not whether it is a great project or not, nor is it with a $12 annual household tax increase. My struggle with voting yes is that if we as a city are going to borrow $25,000,000 is this project the priority? I don’t believe it is. I would personally be more than happy to have my household taxes increase by the same amount to partner with the province to build affordable housing for low and middle-income families. However, the question asked by Infotel is not should Vernon borrow $25,000,000 and if so where do you think it should go?

Ultimately, as a voter, I do not personally view it as a priority nor is it a facility I would frequent. I do, however, understand that it will not hinder a future aquatic center which is important, and I do believe it is a good project for Vernon, overall. It will add to our social infrastructure beyond athletics and will draw future investments to revitalize the 30 street and 34 avenue area of downtown. Therefore, I will be voting yes in support of a new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre.

Jasmine Finlay: That should be left up to voters to decide.

Sherrilee Franks: The point of the referendum is to determine if the Arts and Cultural community in the North Okanagan Regional District want the building. This is not a decision for council. My vote is one in 84,000. I fully support the referendum and its outcome.

Kari Gares: I have always been a firm believer that building an Identity forged from arts and culture is essential is building a strong and diverse community that drives economic sustainability.  There was a report done for the City of Kelowna that spoke to benefits of building a strong identity centred around arts and culture, and one way to do this was to build the infrastructure needed to enhance this development.  So yes, the new Arts and Culture Centre is a great step in the right direction to building another foundation support in a growing community base. My only concern is the conceptual design of the building and whether it will meet the needs of a growing community. Aside from this, I believe the City is finally acknowledging the economic impact that a culturally diverse community will have on the broader development for a sustainable society.

Don Jefcoat: I struggled with this for some time.  We don't have drawings or even a business plan. But looking at the numbers I am little more relaxed on the idea.  I can afford 80 cents a week to go towards this facility. If people do decide to support this I hope that we see designs and plans fairly quickly.

Jamie Morrow: Yes to a very loud I do. A few people I have talked to have said to me that they are not in favour and that we are mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren. The vast majority of people I have talked to see this as an investment for our children and grandchildren. This is also my view and why I support this. The Arts and Culture sector is a key economic driver that will contribute to our local economy by building a strong and vibrant downtown as well as creating civic engagement. This is a positive investment in our future.

Rick Lavin: I do support the Cultural Centre and will be voting in favor of borrowing the $25M for Vernon’s share of the project.  The net cost per household will be about $12 per year. For every dollar spent on the arts, culture, and heritage we will see a return on investment many times over.  I believe that the Cultural Centre will add an element of beauty to our city, will attract talent and new business to Vernon, and will make our city much more enjoyable. I will be encouraging everyone to vote “YES” on October 20th.

Shawn Lee: I support the borrowing referendum question that would permit the construction of a purpose built facility for the Art Gallery and the Museum; both having long found their current locations increasingly unviable.

A new structure, built to current Museum and Art Gallery standards would allow the reception of world class touring exhibits which now cannot be even considered.  Greater space will allow both facilities to display more of their collections, most of which are now stored and rarely seen by the public.

The prospect of borrowing 25 million is daunting but it should be remembered that a yes vote is required in order to be eligible for addition grants envisioned to complete the project. It is also important that we are assured that a yes vote will not increase the tax burden.  With the retirement of the debt for the Performing Arts Centre, the timing is opportune to borrow for the new Cultural Center with no attendant tax increases. I believe a purpose built Cultural Center will provide life enriching experience for decades to come.

The new facility will also be a draw for visitors to our region just as Kal Tire Place, the Performing Arts Center and the recently completed Athletic field.  No one could argue that these public venues have not been of great benefit to our communities. I am grateful for the vision of the few and wisdom of the many that in the past supported the borrowing that allowed for these facilities which have so enhanced our community. I hope that the wisdom of the many will allow this proposed facility to go forward.

Gordon Leighton: Yes! First of all, let’s be clear that the proposed borrowing of $25-million is not solely a City of Vernon issue.  The referendum initiative by the Regional District is for “Greater Vernon”, which includes Coldstream as well as RDNO areas “B” and “C” (BX / Swan Lake).  I support both the project and the referendum.

The entire project will be $40-million, 62.5% provided through the referendum borrowing and the remaining 37.5% from other grants and local fundraising.  The borrowing will not take place until the proponents raise the balance. By the time the funds are raised, current debt on the books for Kal Tire Place (South) and The Performing Arts Centre will be retired.  The net impact on taxes will be an average of $12 per year. Yes, we can afford $1 per month to enrich the cultural fabric of Vernon.

There is no question in my mind about the need for new quarters for the Art Gallery and the Museum, both of which have long outgrown their current spaces, and neither of which meet standards required for touring exhibits. The proposed new facility will also include a much need performance venue of up to 200 seats. The proposed central downtown location will further enrich our downtown core, which in my opinion is one of the best and most vibrant “downtowns” in B.C. Moreover, the facility will enhance our ability to recruit personnel in every organization, both public and private.  Approving the referendum does not mean that future City initiatives, such as a new pool, would be compromised.

Kevin Lepp: I support a proposed new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre. In order to move ahead with these types of larger projects, Council needs to hear from the community via referendum regarding timing and money’s required.  What I am hearing from people of a range of ages is that we are also in need of a new recreational facility with a larger pool, gym facilities, and areas for our kids and community to stay active. I believe we can build a facility through a Private/Public partnership to fund it so that the taxpayers do not bare the whole cost

Dalvir Nahal: I am whole-heartedly in favor of a new Cultural Centre and the possibility of borrowing up to $25 million dollars. If voters choose to support this in two years time when it comes time to borrow the money and we will have already successfully paid off the Performing Arts Centre and Kal Tire Place ensuring that it does not have a huge impact to our taxes. A new Cultural Centre is an economic priority for this area. The cultural economy is growing rapidly across the nation. Digital Art and Heritage is a massive job creator.  Vernon has been waiting long enough and its time for a new cultural hub downtown. It will create a meeting and gathering space, create vibrancy and make downtown safer. This center will be an investment in our youth and their potential. It will be a new innovative space that can be utilized by many groups including the tech sector and our first nations groups, thus having huge economic and social benefit to not only our communities but all stakeholders. Investing with borrowed money is an investment in the social economics of Vernon. We can't help homelessness without helping the entire community. Together we can create a strong and connected community that is rich in culture and I look forward to seeing this referendum pass.

Darrin Taylor: Projects like this do a tremendous amount for civic pride and the vitality of our city. The voters will ultimately decide if this is the time. I will be voting yes because I think it important that we consider the needs of the next generation. I am also mindful of what we must do as a community to make Vernon attractive to those who would invest here or consider raising their families here. Arts and recreation services can be what sets one community apart from another. It will be through attracting investment in Vernon that we will be able to hold the reigns on taxes while providing the services our citizens desire.

Dawn Tucker: The Greater Vernon Cultural Centre is going to referendum for the citizens to determine if the city should borrow $25 million to build.  That being said I do believe as a city we are due for a new museum and art gallery. The museum and art gallery both need more space for display and proper storage areas with climate controls. Not having these things in place has already lost us important artifacts of our history such as Sveva Caetani’s Recapitulation paintings to the Alberta Arts Foundation. We need an art gallery that doesn’t flood and a place we can showcase donations to both locations. Our museum is also a valuable place for those doing research into local history; I spent many hours as a child in our current museum and as a university student doing research. Culture is important to tourism and to our youth.  If the referendum passes or fails on the ballot is up to our residents and I will abide by the community’s decision. What I won’t do is support taking the existing proposal to an alternative process after referendum to get it built as was done with projects in the past.

Terry Vulcano: I would need to learn more about the objectives of the proposal and the long term operating costs before making a decision. What kind of increased attendance/revenue is expected?  What will be the additional costs associated with the improved facility. If the referendum falls and I am on Council, I would advocate for the old Library to be the location of the Art Gallery. Being close to the Museum would benefit both.  The Art Gallery deserves to be in a better location than the bottom of a parkade.

Sam Zaharia: I think we have bigger fish to fry, but I do understand the need to make room for more than sports, for sure. Meanwhile, the old Woolworth's building is monstrous and vacant. High ceilings. Central location. Lunch counter. Fries and gravy. Art and culture up, storage below. The old elevator probably still works, too.

Have your say in the comments section below.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Shelby Thevenot or call (250) 819-6089 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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