EDITORIAL: Public has a role in sports plan

There’s no question that the North Okanagan requires a significant long-term investment in sports and recreation infrastructure if it’s to provide the amenities a growing community requires while capitalizing on the economic opportunities that sports tourism creates.

That’s why the creation of the North Okanagan Sports Society is long overdue. Through a formal structure, a broad spectrum of stakeholders will develop a facility plan and resources for tournaments.

However the timing could be better for announcing the society’s plans.

On April 6, Greater Vernon residents will vote on borrowing $7.5 million for a proposed running track and sports field at Okanagan College. Already there have been concerns from residents about the cost – both capital and operating – and the ability to pay during an economic downturn. On top of this, there is talk of a new museum and art gallery, as well as multi-millions of dollars for water upgrades.

So as much as there may be general support for recreation and stimulating the economy, some residents may be concerned that the goals of the North Okanagan Sports Society will ultimately mean more tax dollars flowing out of their pocket.

With that possibility in mind, it is incumbent on those involved in the North Okanagan Sports Society to begin the communication process with the public immediately and not just the politicians and user groups.

If the concept of promoting the long-term benefits of sports and recreation is to succeed, North Okanagan residents must be brought on board and assured that  their only involvement isn’t just picking up the tab.

A winning formula for any team is bringing everyone together, and that’s certainly what’s required now.


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