Council considers gallery referendum

Vernon committee recommending that council support proposed sports complex and art gallery moving forward to referendum concurrently

Another referendum could be put before Greater Vernon residents in the spring.

The City of Vernon’s economic development advisory committee will recommend Monday that council support the proposed sports complex and art gallery moving forward to referendum concurrently.

“If both issues come together, it makes sense for all,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe, a committee member.

The Regional District of North Okanagan has initiated the process for an April 6 borrowing referendum for a sports facility at Okanagan College.

The Vernon Public Art Gallery wants to construct a new facility on the old Vernon Flower Shop site on 31st Avenue.

However, RDNO, which oversees cultural matters, has not provided support for a new gallery yet.

O’Keefe admits participation from Coldstream and the electoral areas is necessary before a firm date can be set for an art gallery vote.

It’s expected VPAG will make a presentation to the regional district in the foreseeable future. The city has given the VPAG until Dec. 31 to demonstrate it has the ability to build on the publicly owned flower shop site.

“It’s far enough along in thinking to be moving that way (referendum),” said Tom Christensen, who sits on a VPAG steering committee.

“There are still issues to work on but the concept is strong. There is an opportunity to build community awareness.”

A stand-alone, 18,000-square-foot gallery could cost about $5 million.

One of the issues that arose during a recent meeting between the economic development committee and the VPAG was whether the Greater Vernon Museum could be part of expanded facilities.

“If we were to do both together, we would need a larger space (than the old flower shop),” said Christensen.


“There’s also a challenge of timing because the gallery has done a lot of the background work on determining its needs.”