Cultural timeline a concern

Coun. Mary-Jo O'Keefe suggests a delay by elected officials could negatively impact a referendum for a museum and art gallery

A Vernon politician warns that bureaucracy could throw cultural plans off course.

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe told her colleagues Tuesday that she is concerned that the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has delayed a decision on whether an April referendum will be held on borrowing funds for both a museum and  an art gallery.

“We make groups jump a lot of hoops with not a lot of leadership by politicians being shown,” she said.

After presentations from both the gallery and museum last week, the GVAC board asked staff to present a report on costs — possibly upwards of $17 million —and the legislative process for its Dec. 6 meeting.

If GVAC makes a decision then, it would have to be ratified by the Regional District of North Okanagan board, likely in January.

O’Keefe says that may leave insufficient time to meet requirements for a spring referendum.

“Are we being fair to them and giving them enough time to get their votes together?” she said.

However, Coun. Juliette Cunningham says  representatives from  the art gallery and museum were told a year ago they would have to go to GVAC because that agency oversees cultural matters locally.

“They only went to GVAC last week. I’m surprised they didn’t go sooner,” she said.

Cunningham also pointed out that it’s still unknown whether a museum and gallery would be in a single building or in separate structures.

“There’s a lot we have to sort out,” she said.

Coun. Catherine Lord insists the city must play a role and can’t simply pass the process off to GVAC.

“We represent the largest majority at GVAC. If someone is going to champion this, it has to come from here,” she said.

Ultimately, council opted to set aside part of its Nov. 26 agenda to consider cultural facilities further.

“We can have a discussion on what Vernon’s position should be,” said Coun. Bob Spiers.