Vernon council holds off on support for art gallery

Vernon politicians aren’t rallying around plans for a new art gallery just yet.

Council refused Monday to endorse a referendum on an art gallery being held concurrently with a sports complex because there has not been a discussion with its Coldstream and electoral area partners.

“It needs to go there,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

“We’re assuming everyone in the function supports this and we’re putting the cart before the horse.”

The city’s economic development committee had recommended council support an art gallery referendum at the same time residents vote on a sports facility next to Okanagan College. However, council will instead tell the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee that only the economic development committee, at this time, supports a referendum.

“It doesn’t show council’s position either way,” said Coun. Bob Spiers.

Reluctance to support a referendum came from Coun. Catherine Lord.

“I don’t have enough information. I don’t have any background,” she said.

Lord also suggests the art gallery plan doesn’t completely meet the needs of the community.

“I’d like to see the museum and art gallery together in one location and that’s not covered. Given what taxpayers will be paying, we have to take a long-range look,” she said.

Dauna Kennedy Grant, Vernon Public Art Gallery executive director, wasn’t disappointed with council’s lack of support.

“We weren’t looking for that,” she said, adding that she will make a presentation to GVAC Nov. 8.

“We are ready to go. We can pull it out for a spring referendum.”

In terms of including the museum in the project, Kennedy Grant says the current site provided by the site is not large enough for both facilities.

“If another site comes up, we can be open to that.”

Taxpayers could be asked to borrow $7 million for an art gallery but possible senior government grants could reduce the amount needed for construction.

On a related note, Vernon council has decided to pursue a long-term strategic vision for recreaton and culture with its regional partners.

“If we have a plan long-term, we will have an opportunity to set a course for 15 to 25 years in the community,” said Coun. Patrick Nicol.



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