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Greater Vernon may appeal arena referendum veto

October 10, 2014 - 3:23 PM

VERNON - Greater Vernon officials may appeal a ruling from the province forbidding a referendum on borrowing money to replace the Civic Arena.

The question was set to be on the November municipal election ballot, but the Inspector of Municipalities refused to approve the referendum due to concerns about the North Okanagan Regional District borrowing funds for an expansion of a city-owned facility.

An engineering report revealed the facility had little life left, and could fail at any time, which prompted Greater Vernon to propose a fall referendum asking up to $13 million for a second ice sheet at Kal Tire Place.

“It clearly is on its last legs and the longer we leave it there the more expensive the maintenance is,” Vernon mayor Rob Sawatzky says.

Adding the question to the November ballot rather than holding a separate referendum on the matter would have saved taxpayers an estimated $70,000, Sawatzky says.

One option for the municipal government is to appeal to Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, to overrule the decision. Sawatzky says local officials will discuss the possibility next week.

“It’s really unfortunate that ministry staff took this interpretation,” Sawatzky says. “This was the desired pathway of a whole lot of elected officials from different jurisdictions working together collaboratively, this is what they agreed they to do.”

Given Greater Vernon’s current ice space, if Civic Arena failed, there would be nowhere to shuffle the 40 per cent of user groups that depend on the ice. 

“That just isn’t a good service to your community,” Sawatzky says.

The mayor has hopes of a spring 2015 referendum to replace Civic Arena.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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