City picks up possible arts space

Purchase of Vernon Flower Shop could add to arts and culture corridor

Taxpayers have bought a piece of land in downtown Vernon but it’s unknown whether it will be the future home of an art gallery and museum.

The City of Vernon has purchased the Vernon Flower Shop building at 3011 31st Avenue for $315,000.

When asked if this will be the site of a proposed museum and art gallery complex, Mayor Wayne Lippert would only say, “It’s a potential site for future arts and culture space.”

Both the public art gallery and the museum have been lobbying for new facilities because their current locations are cramped and do not contain climate controls necessary to protect artifacts.

The gallery’s recent Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts fundraiser was held across from Vernon Flower Shop in Cenotaph Park.

Lippert insists that no matter the use, the latest land acquisition will prove a benefit to the community.

“We’ve looked at it because we bought the adjacent medical clinic property a few years ago. It could be a park and an art walk,” he said.

The purchase has full support among council members.

“It consolidates the rest of the block,” said Coun. Bob Spiers of the city’s existing land holdings.

“We could do something with it in the future. It’s a good investment.”

Coun. Jack Gilroy admits some residents may question purchasing the flower shop building when the city already owns the Coldstream Hotel property which has been sitting vacant for years.

However, he says the flower shop site makes sense.

“That’s the area we want to do some redeveloping in,” said Gilroy. “We will have more parking downtown until there is a plan for the land.”

As for the Coldstream Hotel property, Gilroy says it is critical for the long-term future of Vernon.

“We are trying to get a development there with shops on the bottom and housing above so we can get more people living downtown,” he said.

The Vernon Flower Shop will lease back the building on a monthly basis until it has found alternate premises.