Referendum for new Vernon cultural facility set for October - InfoNews

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Referendum for new Vernon cultural facility set for October

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June 21, 2018 - 9:56 AM

VERNON - Voters will have their say on a new cultural facility for Greater Vernon this fall.

The Regional District of North Okanagan approved an October referendum on borrowing $25 million for a Multi-Purpose Cultural Facility, according to a media release. The facility would house the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives and the Vernon Public Art Gallery.
 
“Growing Greater Vernon’s cultural capacity allows us to be a community of choice for families, and the impact on jobs, tourism and spending in a vibrant downtown would be significant,” board chair Bob Fleming says in the release. “The timing of construction has been carefully considered for taxpayers so that it dovetails with the completion of other major projects.”
 
The $25 million loan is timed to coincide with the $23.8 million borrowed for the construction for Kal Tire Place and the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre coming off the books, the regional district says. The referendum, being held along with the October municipal election, gives voters a chance to have a say in borrowing a portion of the funds to build the cultural facility.
 
The need for a multi-purpose cultural facility was identified as part of the Greater Vernon Cultural Plan, completed in 2016 following a comprehensive process that involved research, document reviews, stakeholder meetings and public consultation, the regional district says.

“The facility will provide improved space for the art gallery and museum, as well as flexible spaces that will be available to other community organizations struggling to find venues to host their programs and activities,” states the release.
 
Downtown Vernon has been chosen as the preferred site for the facility, with Vernon Council supporting part of the Vernon Block, located in the 2900 block between 31 Avenue and 32 Avenue. The city has offered one third of the property for the project at fair market value, according to the regional district. The Vernon Block, which is currently used for parking, has been slated for future development for over a decade.
 
“A project of this size and scope can be a catalyst to encourage higher density mixed-use development, which is what we want to see for downtown,” Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund says in the release. “The economic impact of such a development will be significant to existing businesses, surrounding shopping and restaurants, and will encourage more redevelopment in the area.”
 
The Vernon Block is also close to transportation options including the newly constructed 29/30 Street active transportation corridor, the Transit Exchange and municipal and private parking facilities, the regional district says.
 
The proposed Multi-Purpose Cultural Facility has an estimated project budget of $40 million based on estimates that presume construction in 2020. The project will be subject to a successful referendum to approve borrowing of up to $25 million, with the remaining $15 million of project funding to be obtained through federal and provincial grants, partnership contributions, fundraising and donations.


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