Vernon Winter Carnival Society, City at odds over building

Carnival wants to stay in city-owned building; city wants eviction notice carried out

The Vernon Winter Carnival Society does not want to go looking for more treasure.

The society, preparing for the 59th annual Vernon Winter Carnival in February 2019, with its A Pirate’s Carnival theme, feels like the City of Vernon is asking it to walk the plank when it comes to its home.

The city gave Carnival a six-month eviction notice in March. It owns the building Carnival operates out of in the 3400 block of 35th Avenue, beside BX-Swan Lake Creek. Carnival has been at the location since 1995. The notice was given due to safety concerns for the aging building, which suffered significant flood damage from the creek in the wet spring of 2017.

That notice was extended to one year in June, at the request of Carnival, and came with six conditions, the latter two – that the carnival society acknowledges the offer of alternative space provided by the city in June 2018 may not be available in the future and that no further extensions to the license agreement will be offered – did not sit well with Carnival.

RELATED: Vernon Winter Carnival staying put in city-owned office

“Carnival has been provided a home by the city since 1981,” said society chairperson Deb White. “When you mention the Carnival office to Vernon residents, no one asks where it is. It’s a staple in the community.”

Just last Friday, more than 200 people lined up prior to the office’s opening at 9 a.m. to buy Carnival event tickets. Two events sold out. Another two are at 70 per cent sold.

RELATED: Vernon Winter Carnival ticket sales draw a crowd

At the root of the dispute between the two groups is the state of the current building.

City administrator Will Pearce said the building’s foundation “actually forms part of the creek bank right now.”

“At some point, the building will fail. Hence the apprehension to invest public dollars into a building that is physically part of the creek bank,” he said. “When there’s high water, there are serious problems with the building.”

White said Carnival is responsible for paying all utilities and maintenance on the building and carries liability insurance. She said the flooding in 2017 was the first in that building, and there was minimal flooding this year.

Support came from rookie councillor and the city’s Carnival liaison, Kari Gares, a mortgage broker.

“Why not continue the partnership in the building not posing any financial cost or liability to the city if the Winter Carnival is willing to take on the risk and liability?” asked Gares, who asked the administration to come back with a report on the matter. ” Why have the necessity to evict them out of building for June?”

A report will be prepared for the first regular meeting in 2019 on Jan. 14.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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