Cultural master plan sparks debate

A blueprint for Greater Vernon’s cultural scene is moving ahead, but not everyone is happy

A blueprint for Greater Vernon’s cultural scene is moving ahead, but not everyone is happy.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee agreed Thursday to establish a steering team to oversee the development of a cultural master plan.

“The purpose of a cultural plan is to provide the regional district with direction on how to better support culture and provide a vision for culture in the community,” said Tannis Nelson, community development co-ordinator.

The process has identified partner organizations, essentially those that receive GVAC funding such as the Greater Vernon Museum and the Performing Arts Centre. That raised concerns from the Allan Brooks Nature Centre and Okanagan Science Centre because they weren’t asked to sit at the table.

Questions about the process have also come from some elected officials.

“I have a problem with a committee of 30 people and the involvement of those groups. We’re setting up expectations,” said director Catherine Lord, adding that any actions depend on the public’s ability to pay taxes.

Director Rob Sawatzky defended the size of the committee.

“The nature of what we’re trying to do requires a large committee if we want collaborative input,” he said.

During the meeting, director Maria Besso insisted that a cultural plan should not proceed until GVAC members have discussed the future of culture.

“I’d like to see political commitment to what we’re prepared to fund and not fund and not just those (groups) grandfathered in the service bylaw,” she said.

“Have we been given a mandate from people that they want their taxes to go up?”

Nelson says the master plan process will not just focus on existing stakeholders and residents will have a chance to be involved.

“This is a community discovery process. If you are not an arts supporter, you get a voice,” she said.

Besso attempted to have a sub-committee of GVAC established to focus just on culture from a philosophical and fiscal scope.

“With GVAC, the meetings are just once a month,” said Besso, adding that there isn’t time to get into specific details.

Besso says that while a culture master plan proceeds, GVAC still needs to move a proposed art gallery and museum towards referendum.

“We are avoiding our responsibilities to discuss the facilities,” she said.

Besso was unable to get sufficient support to form a working group.

“She’s recommending five people and there are seven here (at GVAC). It’s an important topic that needs to be discussed with the full committee,” said Macnabb.