- BC Games
Spring referendum called despite concerns
There are significant uncertainties as the future of cultural amenities moves ahead.
The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee voted 5-2 Thursday to proceed to a spring 2014 referendum to borrow funds for a new art gallery and museum.
“Until I get more information, I’m not participating,” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Swan Lake director, of his opposition.
Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake director, also won’t guarantee his area will take part in the referendum.
“Before I can answer that, I need to know what I’m voting on,” he said.
GVAC staff will now focus on a number of outstanding issues including construction cost, if there is one ballot or two, when the vote may be held and operating costs if the facilities proceed.
It’s estimated both projects could cost $17 million to build but Vernon director Rob Sawatzky says that is yet to be finalized.
“It could possibly be that the dollar figure approved by the politicians is not the figure the advocacy groups prefer,” he said.
Staff had recommended Thursday that a referendum be delayed until an arts and culture master plan, outlining needs, be developed for the region.
It’s a recommendation Fleming supported.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and hasn’t been done. This (gallery/museum) is more than double the cost of the (sports) track,” he said.
Catherine Lord, Vernon director, pushed to have a referendum.
“If we delay this, we’re doing a disservice to arts and culture. They have been pushing for this for a long time,” she said.
Sawatzky disagrees with Fleming and Macnabb that the initiative is being unreasonably expedited.
“There’s been 10 years of various options. Ten years or more is not rushing,” he said.
While he agreed to moving ahead, Coldstream director Jim Garlick says an unresolved matter is whether RDNO or the City of Vernon will own the facilities.
“Land acquisition will be a big issue for my council,” he said.
VPAG and museum officials welcomed GVAC’s decision Thursday.
“We are delighted that the process is moving ahead,” said Andrew Powell, Vernon Public Art Gallery president.
One challenge, though, is the groups will have to pay $50,000, the difference between holding an independent referendum in the spring and vote combined with falls’ civic elections.
“That cuts into our referendum marketing campaign,” said Dauna Kennedy Grant, VPAG executive director.