Vernon voters delivered a huge YES in the Cultural Centre Referendum.
Official results posted a few minutes ago on the Regional District of North Okanagan show 7,850 people said yes, while 5,367 chose no.
“I’m gonna go dance, this is so awesome,” beamed Dauna Kennedy, executive director of the Vernon Public Art Gallery. “We’re celebrating; we’ve got the music playing. It’s so exciting. It’s been a long time coming. There are so many people who put in a lot of work in helping make this happen. We can’t wait to move forward.”
Greater Vernon voters were asked to decide whether they support borrowing up to $25 million for the purpose of constructing a new multi-purpose cultural centre in downtown Vernon. The referendum will determine whether the community wishes to move forward with grant applications and fundraising to generate the additional $15 million required to complete this $40 million project.
The question on the referendum ballot asked whether the voter is in favour of the Regional District adopting two bylaws: one to authorize the loan that will allow the Regional District to borrow up to $25 million for the purposes of constructing a multi-purpose cultural facility, and the second to authorize the establishment of a cultural service to operate that facility.
Roger Lamoureux, who has been interim executive director of the Greater Museum and Archives for the last two months, said the museum hopes to house the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame, currently situated on the walls of Kal Tire Place, into a new museum.
Referendums for the performing arts theatre, Kal Tire Place and Greater Vernon Athletics Park all failed the first time but passed on a second vote.
It was estimated that a new cultural centre was going to cost the average taxpayer approximately $12 a year.
While a detailed design for the new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre has not yet been done, costing of the project was based on the types and sizes of spaces that are needed.
The new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre will include:
* Exhibition space for the museum and art gallery.
* Meeting spaces.
* Classroom spaces.
* Workshop spaces.
* Presentation/performance space (150-200 seat).
* Gift shop.
* Administrative spaces.
* A big, bright, welcoming lobby.
The new cultural centre will be three stories and provide more than double the current area of the current art gallery and museum, allowing for growth well into the future.
It would have a net square footage of approximately 39,000 (gross of 58,000 sq ft.) and will provide a building that can adequately protect the cultural collection of art, archives and artifacts owned by the community, which are currently at risk due to building limitations of the current art gallery and museum.
While the cost of land acquisition associated with the preferred Vernon Block site would require an appraisal, a $1.5 million land acquisition contingency was included, bringing the total project cost including land, construction, equipment and site development to $40 million in 2020 dollars.