What will Vernon's Active Living Centre actually cost taxpayers? | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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What will Vernon's Active Living Centre actually cost taxpayers?

A conceptual design of the Active Living Centre lobby.
Image Credit: City of Vernon

Vernon residents will be looking at a 17 per cent tax hike if they decide that the proposed Active Living Centre should be built.

While the tax increases will be gradual and start in 2024, by 2027 the average Vernon taxpayer will see $292 added to their tax bill – a 17 per cent increase.

That means that the average Vernon homeowner living in a property assessed at $611,523 will see their yearly property tax bill jump to $2,019 from $1,727.

That jump will remain until the loan is paid off in 30 years' time.

And that's based on Vernon residents owning an average assessed home, not the benchmark price widely used by realtors.

If you're lucky enough to own a property at the benchmark price of $762,368 you'll see a tax bill increase by $364.

The tax increase starts gradually at $63 in 2024, then increases to $130 in 2025, $210 in 2026, until it hits $292 in 2017.

By 2017 the increase will also cover the $1.4-million annual operating cost of running the centre.

Vernon residents will go to the polls Oct. 15 – the day of the municipal election – to vote on whether to borrow $121 million to build the Active Living Centre.

While the City of Vernon has published multiple news releases about the proposed $121 million Active Living Centre it's been vague on what the cost to taxpayers will actually be.

An Aug. 30 media release titled "Active Living Centre Referendum: Funding strategy and impact for taxpayers" failed to actually mention what the impact for taxpayers would be.

A day later – after questions from the media – the City release another statement with dollar figures in it.

"The City’s objective is to provide accurate, fact-based information in a clear and concise manner to achieve shared understanding with citizens. Therefore, we believe it’s prudent to offer additional information and clarification as quickly as possible," the release said.

The City then said the Active Living Centre would cost the average taxpayer $292 come 2027 without mentioning this was a 17 per cent tax increase from 2022.

The City has also stressed that "it’s important to note these are estimated dollar figures."

The Active Living Centre will include a 50-metre pool, with bulkheads providing the ability to divide the pool into three activity areas, a separate leisure pool, hot tubs and a sauna and steam room, along with a double gymnasium with multiple sports courts, an 80-station fitness centre and a 150-metre synthetic walking and running track along with a multi-purpose activity and program spaces.

While the $121-million Active Living Centre will be built on the former site of the Kin Race Track, it's worth remembering that this loan doesn't include the development of the Kin Race Track Athletic Park which is a separate project.

In early summer, council endorsed a concept plan for Kin Race Track Athletic Park and environmental and engineering studies are underway.

The proposed Kin Race Track Athletic Park would include artificial turf fields, multiple courts, a skate park, an outdoor ice rink, recreational trails, a dog park, and natural wetland trails.

But how much it will cost or how to pay for it has yet to be decided.

For more information on the Active Living Centre as well as dates for a public open house about the centre go here.

A draft concept plan of the entire site.
A draft concept plan of the entire site.
Image Credit: City of Vernon

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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