Arena up to voters

Behind-the-scenes efforts are progressing on replacing Civic Arena as an ice sheet with the twinning of Kal Tire Place.

It’s anticipated Greater Vernon residents will go to the polls this fall on a new arena.

Behind-the-scenes efforts are progressing on replacing Civic Arena as an ice sheet with the twinning of Kal Tire Place.

“We’re at the stage where the city has costed out a proposal and the four parties (jurisdictions) have agreed to a referendum in the fall,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake director.

The Regional District of North Okanagan had hoped to hold a borrowing referendum in November 2014 but the provincial government blocked that process because Kal Tire Place is owned by the City of Vernon.

To satisfy ministry guidelines, the new strategy is for the regional district to borrow the funds and own the new ice sheet. A long-term lease would place it in the hands of the city.

“We can have the city manage it and make the operational decisions,” said Jim Garlick, Coldstream director.

However, a firm date for a referendum still hasn’t been set because of an outstanding hurdle.

“We are still working on getting approval from the ministry,” said Garlick

It’s been decided to pursue a new ice sheet because Civic Arena is 78 years old and significant upgrades are required.

“We could put more money into it but there’s a question of how much for how long?” said Fleming.

“The money could be spent on a new facility.”

If the borrowing referendum proceeds for possibly up to $13 million, Fleming admits residents will have to be convinced of the need for a new arena and the benefits to the community.

“It will take some work to pass this one,” he said.