Regional District to vote on Greater Vernon Cultural Centre location - InfoNews

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Regional District to vote on Greater Vernon Cultural Centre location

The proposed site for the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre at 32 Avenue, Vernon.
August 10, 2020 - 3:00 PM

The Regional District of North Okanagan is hoping to finalize a plan to build the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre on the downtown parking lot at 32 Avenue but up to 20 per cent smaller.

On Wednesday, Aug. 12, the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee is set to vote on purchasing large parts of the 32 Avenue parking lot from the City of Vernon to build the Cultural Centre. Along with an agreement of sale for the land, the Regional District also wants to have a cost estate report if the building was to be up to 20 per cent smaller than originally planned and visual artist renderings of the site complete in time to apply for a federal government grant deadline of Oct. 1.

The staff report says if this deadline is missed there may not be another opportunity to borrow the money, putting the future of the Cultural Centre in jeopardy.

If the vote passes in favour of the 32 Avenue site – known as the Vernon Block – and the necessary steps to apply for the grant are completed, the move will kickstart the Cultural Centre project which was originally approved at a referendum in October 2018.

Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chair Akbal Mund told iNFOnews.ca finalizing the location and applying for the grants would "get the ball moving."

Mund said while they had been discussions about building the centre at Polson Park, the 32 Avenue site was voted on prior to the referendum.

"I think what's happened is that other people have talked about let's go back and reconsider other sites," Mund said. "This site at the Vernon Block (32 Avenue) has always been the site, no political decision has ever been made to change this site."

Almost two years after the public agreed to borrow $25 million to build the $40 million Greater Vernon Cultural Centre little concrete action has been taken. A Regional District report early this year predicted the Cultural Centre would run a deficit of close to $300,000 in its first year. A plan to reduce the size of the building by up to 20 per cent was then put forward.

Last month a working group was formed consisting of Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming, District of Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick and electoral area directors Amanda Shatzko and Bob Fleming to keep the plan for the Cultural Centre moving forward.

Mund said original discussions looked at using one-third of the 32 Avenue site, but now estimated possible 40 per cent would be used. Mund also said staff would investigate the building's square footage being up to 20 per cent smaller.

The Regional District staff report states in order to have a "strong grant application" completed by Oct. 1, a sale agreement must be complete, as well as a building report with adjusted construction and operational costs, and a rendering of the Centre. The report also states the grant application also requires funding strategies for the Cultural Centre.

Staff are asking the Regional District for an extra $35,500 to complete the work.

"This is a great deal of work to complete over the next two months," reads the report. The staff report continues to say, if these steps are not completed and the federal grant application is missed, there may not be another opportunity to apply for funding within the required timeline since the referendum. 

"Without senior-level funding, this project is very unlikely to be successful," reads the report.

Even if all goes to plan, Mund still wouldn't hazard a guess as to when construction would start or when the cultural centre would open.

"Hopefully sooner than later," he said.


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