Cultural process moves ahead

The long road towards Greater Vernon’s cultural vision is now being navigated.

Elected officials met Thursday with the consultants working on the cultural plan while discussions were also held with cultural stakeholders.

“The plan will be an ongoing process throughout the year,” said Tannis Nelson, the Regional District of North Okanagan’s community development co-ordinator.

“The intention is this is a community document. It will put government in tune with the broader community vision.”

Among the issues discussed Thursday was the cost involved in cultural services.

“How do we make these facilities available without burdening taxpayers?” said director Maria Besso.

Beyond establishing the needs of the various cultural groups, director Gyula Kiss insists that residents must be heard from.

“We need to figure out what the people paying the bill want,” he said.

However, consultant Kari Huhtala pointed out that a key role to a master plan will be to identify partnerships and other funding sources.

“It’s not necessarily about more tax money,” he said.

When the politicians were asked about prospective challenges when establishing a cultural plan, there were some common themes.

“Taxpayer fatigue came up in a number of areas. There’s the whole referendum question,” said consultant Colette Parsons of voters heading to the polls for water upgrades, sports facilities and cultural projects.

“There also appears to be a sense of competition among the cultural groups and how we bring them under one tent.”

How to implement the 10-year plan was also discussed.

“There needs to be (political) ownership and buy-in,” said director Doug Dirk.

“Ownership needs to be as wide as possible. The municipal councils need to be involved.”

Juliette Cunningham, Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson, is pushing for a plan that can meet the community’s needs even when the politicians involved change.

“I don’t want motherhood statements and lip-service. I want something concrete,” she said.


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