Civic complex campaign costs $373,538

THE CIVIC complex never materialized but it still cost taxpayers $373,538. - ARTIST RENDERING
THE CIVIC complex never materialized but it still cost taxpayers $373,538.
— image credit: ARTIST RENDERING

Vernonites forked out considerable dollars for a civic complex that hasn’t materialized.

Council received a staff report Monday that shows that $373,538 was spent on the proposed civic complex through the failed alternative approval process last summer and the defeated referendum in January.

“There is nothing to show for it,” said Tony Stamboulieh, spokesman for the Vernon Taxpayers Association which successfully campaigned against the city.

“This (costs) reinforces the perception and reality that a small group of insiders decided what will go through and taxpayers be damned. Those days are over.”

Of the total figure, $110,000 was covered by Okanagan Regional Library, with the city’s cost being $263,538.

The expenses include $167,137 paid to CEI Architecture, $30,295 to MQN Architects, $53,330 to MCW Consultants and $27,000 to Spiegel Skillen and Associates.

In terms of public relations and advertising, $27,961 was spent. Of that, $20,861 went to The Morning Star.

The financial details have reinforced Coun. Barry Beardsell’s opposition to the process the city followed for the complex.

“I find it excessive especially when added to what was spent by the previous cultural committee. That was about $260,000,” he said.

“It’s money down the drain and apologies are due to the taxpayers.”

However, Mayor Wayne Lippert defends the final tab.

“It’s the cost of doing business and taking information forward,” he said.

“It didn’t go down the drain. A lot of good information was brought together over the years by this council and other councils.”

That view is also supported by Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

“You need to pay architects if you are going to have an idea of design and costs before going to the public.”

Cunningham believes some of the concepts developed through the planning process could be used in future.

“We still need an art gallery,” she said.

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