There is no definite timeline yet to replace Vernon’s Civic Arena.

There is no definite timeline yet to replace Vernon’s Civic Arena.

Arena replacement plan on thin ice

Regional District of North Okanagan has abandoned plans for a Nov. 15 borrowing referendum on a replacement ice sheet

Minor hockey parents and players hope Civic Arena can outlast a bureaucratic log jam.

The Regional District of North Okanagan has abandoned plans for a Nov. 15 borrowing referendum on a replacement ice sheet for Civic Arena because there wasn’t sufficient time for the legal process.

“We won’t be able to provide the current level of service without Civic Arena,” said Richard Frater, Greater Vernon Minor Hockey Association president.

“If Civic becomes not operational, we won’t be able to do that.”

Civic Arena is 77 years old and there is a concern major capital issues could lead to the facility suddenly not being available for ice users.

RDNO has not received the required provincial approval needed to move the service establishment and loan authorization bylaws to referendum.

“The province has raised the concern about RDNO having a referendum and borrowing for a capital expansion of a facility owned by the City of Vernon,” said David Sewell, chief administrative officer.

The regional district had proposed borrowing up to $13 million for a 400-seat, NHL-sized ice sheet at the north end of Kal Tire Place.

“There will have to be another direction. We need a process to replace Civic Arena before it fails catastrophically,” said director Rob Sawatzky, adding that one option is possibly having a spring referendum.

Sawatzky isn’t concerned that Nov. 15’s civic election could lead to a new group of politicians who delay the process further.

“The reports and facts speak for themselves. No political stance will replace the fact that Civic Arena has become too expensive to operate and could fail,” he said.

Discussions about process could occur at the next Greater Vernon Advisory Committee session.

“There will be options presented at GVAC on what the next steps are. We believe the proposal still has merit,” said Juliette Cunningham, GVAC chairperson.

While officials determine what to do, Frater insists the needs of minor hockey must be a priority.

“I’m hoping they (GVAC) will come up with a plan to tackle the issue,” he said.