O’Keefe Ranch is publicly campaigning against City of Vernon funding cuts.

O’Keefe Ranch is publicly campaigning against City of Vernon funding cuts.

Councillor defends O’Keefe Ranch grant decision

At least one Vernon politician isn’t impressed with lobbying efforts to restore funding for a historic site.

At least one Vernon politician isn’t impressed with lobbying efforts to restore funding for a historic site.

O’Keefe Ranch is urging residents to contact the City of Vernon and demand that full funding be maintained.

“It’s fine to issue a press release but it should have been accompanied by strategies to be self-sufficient,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.

“Telling everyone to phone their local politician is not the right approach. We want to see a significant effort by the ranch to increase revenue.”

In May, council voted to continue with a $150,000 annual grant for the  city-owned historic site. But in 2017, that will drop to $100,000, followed by $50,000 in 2018 and $10,000 in 2019.

“Council made the right decision,” said Quiring.

“The ranch needs to work towards being sustainable on its own.”

In a release, the ranch states it supports the economy through 15,000 visitors annually, while also employing 18 seasonal staff. It also promotes the area through special events and provides an educational program to 3,000 students a year.

“Vernon city council’s decision to reduce funding for the continued operations of the ranch is wrong,” said Glen Taylor, general manager of the non-profit society which operates the city-owned property under contract.

“We have 146 years of heritage founding the settlement of this entire area. We should be protecting it and investing in it because when it is gone, we have nothing.”

Council’s decision was based on a core services review by KPMG but Taylor says that, “at no time was O’Keefe Ranch approached by KPMG to answer any questions or supply financial information.”

The ranch is urging residents to contact council and demand full funding remain as is.

“Our community needs to stand up and say no,” said Taylor.

Support comes from Coun. Catherine Lord.

“I didn’t like the decision originally and would like to see it revisited,” said Lord, a former ranch manager.

Lord is concerned reduced city funding will lead to fewer senior government grants.

“It’s worth preserving and I would pay more to preserve it,” she said.