The former Vernon Civic Arena site on 37th Avenue will – as discussed and planned by councils and staff past and present – become a park.
Council shot down a motion put forward by Coun. Kari Gares by a margin of 4-3 to pause planning on the Civic Arena park until a decision on the final location of a proposed downtown cultural centre is made.
“Now that we have allowed up to the selling of one-half of the Vernon block (former Coldstream Hotel site) to the cultural centre so they can incorporate additional parkland, I think it’s in our best interest that we wait so that we don’t have a park on every other block along that stretch,” said Gares.
“The Civic Arena site is also a big and open site. Developers think it’s a great site and can incorporate elements of park within that site.”
Coun. Akbal Mund, who opposed the motion along with Kelly Fehr, Brian Quiring and Mayor Victor Cumming, asked staff if the sani dump located at the existing Civic Arena was to be removed by next tourist season (the site also features the Vernon Visitors Information Centre).
When told ‘no,’ Mund said, “I don’t see a developer putting in residences beside a sani dump.”
The question came up from council about the possibility of the Civic Arena site as a mixed-use element with commercial, residential and park.
“We should at least investigate mixed-use,” said Coun. Scott Anderson. “If we don’t pass Kari’s motion, we won’t get another chance and it’ll turn into a park.”
Director of infrastructure and development Kim Flick told council combining mixed-use and park is a “delicate instrument used mainly in strong pedestrian-oriented locations, central business districts and neighbourhood centres supported by transit.”
“But not when surrounded by residential,” said Flick.
Cumming said for the Civic Arena site’s best value, a park is what is needed.
“It will enhance all the grounds around it,” he said.