City asked to double down on arena options
Officials are being warned not to short-change the community when planning for an arena.
About 22 people attended an open house Wednesday to discuss potential options to replace Civic Arena as an ice sheet. Many of those present made the pitch for at least two arenas instead of one.
“If we’re just replacing Civic, we will still have the same problem,” said resident Jody Lambert of a lack of ice time for various user groups.
That was also the view of hockey parent Michael Sherwood.
“We already have a shortage of ice and if we put in two, we will have an economic engine to host tournaments,” he said.
If 76-year-old Civic were to be decommissioned as an ice sheet, the City of Vernon and the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee are currently considering twinning either Priest Valley Arena (to the east or west) or Kal Tire Place (to the west or north), or possibly constructing a new stand-alone facility at a yet to be determined site.
“The goal is to find the best option and where it should go,” said Brian Quiring, with MQN Architects (he has declared a conflict as a city councillor).
“We have to decide what makes sense — repair Civic or build a new facility?”
Costs for the options have not been determined yet, and GVAC directors will discuss the possible options June 25 and whether a borrowing referendum should be held this November.
“You being here is part of the process. You will help shape what may be in the facility,” Doug Ross, the city’s recreation manager, told the crowd.
And among many of those in attendance Wednesday, they don’t want the politicians to just consider a new single sheet of ice.
“Losing the Civic seems problematic because we already have a lack of ice,” said resident Dave DeShane. “Hockey schools and academies bring money to town.”
It was suggested by some that several arenas could be built next to Kal Tire Place. However, the adjacent Kin Race Track is caught in an ongoing legal dispute between the City of Vernon, the Regional District of North Okanagan and the Okanagan Equestrian Society.
The society has been evicted from the publicly owned site but insists there is a long-standing agreement that allows horse racing to occur there.
“The idea that they are holding up improvement of our facilities is unfortunate,” said DeShane.
“We could have four ice sheets and ball diamonds there, and have facilities like other communities do.”
Resident Todd Wenger called for a “super-property” for recreational activities.
“We have an inadequacy with everything. We need a lot more in Vernon,” he said.
However, resident Dave Burns pointed out that many people feel overburdened with taxes already and new recreational facilities could add to that situation.
“You have to sell this based on a real need and not a want,” he said.
“We have to keep things in proper perspective or it will be voted down.”