A proposed multi-purpose cultural facility will likely be located in downtown Vernon.
The City of Vernon has directed the administration to notify the Regional District of North Okanagan that the preferred site for the planned facility is the Vernon Block, 2910-32nd Avenue, the site of the former Coldstream Hotel.
“We thought it was an ideal site,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.
“We’re trying to revitalize downtown, make it more inviting, more amenable to the general public that is making use of the cultural facilities. We just think it’s going to be a bit of an impetus.j Our goal is to get more people living downtown so having a cultural centre will potentially inspire a developer to maybe develop housing on that, some apartment building on that same property as we’re not using it all.”
Council directed to staff to negotiate the sale of up to one-third of the Vernon Block property, approximately 2,500 square metres, at fair market value for the building of the new facility, which would be located at the south end of the lot near 31st Avenue.
The site had been one of four municipal-owned properties within Vernon put forward by a consulting firm retained by RDNO to work on the project.
The other sites identified were the Flower Block, located between 31st Avenue and 30th Street; Polson Park; and the Vernon Civic Arena, which is slated for demolition at some point.
“I really wanted it at the Civic Arena, I thought that was a better location,” said Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal.
The cultural facility would be three storeys, with the art gallery on the ground floor, the museum on the second floor and offices and common space on the third floor. Also on the ground floor would be what the city calls a ‘black box space,’ designate for use for the greater community for events.
“We heard from the arts community that they’re often looking for a venue that’s small enough for their events,” said Cunningham. “The performing arts centre is too big and too expensive so providing a venue that can be used by bigger groups is part of the goal. It can also be used for education, bringing in speakers and presenters for that space.”
The plan for a new multi-purpose cultural facility for Greater Vernon, which would be the new homes of the museum and archives, and public art gallery, has a preliminary size and cost estimate.
The regional district approved a preliminary funding strategy that proposes to use project timing to moderate the tax impact on Greater Vernon residents.
The total project budget, which has been given a cost of $40 million, is made up of pre-construction and project management costs of $3.34 million, construction costs of $29.38 million, a construction contingency of $5.78 million, and a land purchase contingency of $1.5 million.
With a site now chosen, the consulting firm can streamline its plan onto the Vernon Block site.
“I anticipate in two or three weeks we should have another presentation by the consultant to the implementation action team, which is made up of the greater arts community,” said Cunningham.