City promises better, cheaper facility service

Vernon vows to improve services and keep costs in line through the restructuring of recreational facilities

The City of Vernon vows to improve services and keep costs in line through the restructuring of  recreational facilities.

All Greater Vernon jurisdictions have tentatively agreed to a deal that would see the city own and operate Kal Tire Place, the recreation complex and Priest Valley Arena. In return, Coldstream and the electoral areas would provide an annual grant for access.

“The partners will not pay a nickel more beyond the approved budget,” said Will Pearce, the city’s chief administrative officer.

“We will have better services and cheaper services for our clients.”

The city is proposing to reduce ice rental fees as a way of increasing usage, while reducing overhead costs. A total of $690,000 a year would be invested in upgrading the facilities.

Coldstream and the electoral areas would not have a role in day-to-day decision-making, but Pearce insists there will be financial transparency through audited statements.

There would be no specific end date to the agreement but any partner could indicate after four years that they wish to renegotiate in the fifth year.

Pearce is convinced that five-year clause puts pressure on the city to meet the jurisdictions’ needs.

“The city needs to show we are good managers.”

Support is coming from Jim Garlick, Coldstream mayor.

“There is a real opportunity to see improvement in the facilities. I have faith in the city. It’s in their best interest to run it (service) well,” he said.

As part of the proposed deal, $1 million in reserves could be directed towards replacement at Civic Arena, either next to Priest Valley Arena or Kal Tire Place.

The remainder of possibly $6.9 million would be borrowed in a referendum involving all jurisdictions. it could possibly be held in November 2014.

“The public will speak in terms of a referendum and have their say,” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.

Staff is now drafting a memorandum of understanding so the restructuring process can move towards completion.

“I’m hopeful there’s nothing here that’s a deal breaker,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake director.