Greater Vernon Cultural Centre shoots for ambitious funding

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VERNON - The Regional District of North Okanagan is swinging for the fences when it comes to senior government funding for the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre.

After several committee meetings and discussions, the Regional District of North Okanagan is applying for millions of dollars in grant funding for the planned cultural centre.

At the Board of Directors meeting on Dec. 12, members voted to apply for $23.57 million through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program - Community, Culture, and Recreation Program. The centre is estimated to cost $40 million in total. Vernon voters chose to borrow up to $25 million for the centre back in October.

A staff report laid out three possible options for grant application: One-third of project expenses ($12.83 million), $6 million (which was the original infrastructure grant funding target), or any amount within the program's cap of roughly $28.23 million.

The report recommended applying for the first option as it allowed for a significant yet reasonable amount of funding.

The report detailed that $6 million would put greater strain on the Centre's fundraising needs (that grant combined with the $25 million would leave another $9 million to be fundraised).

The report also detailed that the third option runs the risk of being rejected or reduced since it asks for such a large amount of money (the program's total initial available funds for initiatives in the province is $134.84 million).

The board will go forward with the third option, applying for $23.57 million for the centre.

Vernon Coun. Akbal Mund, a director on the board, noted that if the application goes through, it will reduce the money needed from the $25 million loan. Mund said that even if a portion of the requested grant funding goes through, it will lighten the strain of fundraising for the community.

He said the board will discuss further action if the application is completely denied, stating that construction will not begin until funding is secured.

The application deadline is Jan. 23, 2019. For an application to be eligible, construction must start within two years of the submission which would be January 2021.

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