The City of Vernon will undertake a planning process to develop a park on the site of the former Vernon Civic Arena. (Morning Star - file photo)

City of Vernon to develop Civic Arena site into park

Planning process approved by council; construction to start in 2020 or 2021

The City of Vernon will be getting a new park near downtown, and it could possibly house a temporary skating rink before a park is built.

Council voted unanimously to approve a planning process for the development of a new park at the former Vernon Civic Arena site on 37th Avenue. The old arena turned 80 in January 2018 but was demolished later that year.

“The opportunity to develop a new park in the downtown core of our community is very exciting,” said Mayor Victor Cumming. “It’s rare that we get to add greenspace into a fully developed part of the city.”

READ MORE: Vernon says goodbye to historic building

The city will begin with community engagement, directed stakeholder interviews and consideration of the various needs for the site, which has been identified as a Community Park in the Parks Master Plan.

It’s about three acres in size and currently accommodates the Visitor Information Centre, parking facilities, and a sani-dump station. A new extension of 30th Street to connect 37th and 39th Avenues, including extension of the multi-use path, is planned for the east side of the site. This will occupy approximately one-third of the land space resulting in a developable area of approximately two acres.

Coun. Brian Quiring had hoped to push the planning back a year.

“There are lots of things in play right now, lot of things going on,” he said. “Maybe that site may have a higher and better use at some point. I don’t want to go too far down park planning until we’re convinced there isn’t a higher and better use because things are changing. I want to keep some options open.”

Coun. Dalvir Nahal got unanimous support for city staff to compile a report on the potential cost of installing a temporary outdoor skating rink on the site, similar to one in Kelowna’s downtown core.

“I want to see us utilize the space and put in a temporary, family friendly rink,” said Nahal.

The planning work is expected to kick off in September and wrap up in spring of 2020. Construction is anticipated in late 2020 or early 2021, following the completion of the road extension.

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