Vernon drops underground utility plan

A costly plan to make a downtown Vernon property attractive to developers has been abandoned.

Vernon council has supported a staff recommendation to not relocate utility lines underground at the city-owned Coldstream Hotel site on 31st Avenue.

“We don’t have the money,” said Coun. Brian Quiring of council’s goal to tighten expenditures.

It was projected that the project could cost the city $570,000.

“It’s not a priority. If a developer purchases the land, they can do that (remove power poles) and gain more usable square footage,” said Quiring.

In September, council endorsed a staff proposal to apply to B.C. Hydro for funding to move overhead utility lines underground. The goal was to prepare the property for an eventual sale to developers.

“The removal of the works changes the site development potential and options for multiple development,” stated a report at the time.

However, staff advice to council has now changed.

“Administration and staff have been working through the initial 2013/2014 budget. Through this process, the real estate manager and the manager of engineering development have concluded that this requested upgrade to the city property is not advisable given the current spending limitations and core services review,” said Brent Bandy, real estate manager, in a memo to council Monday.

The city purchased the Coldstream Hotel site in 2004 and the plans at that time called for development of a cultural complex.


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