Culture definition fuels debate

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee insists it’s not leaving some groups on the sidelines

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee insists it’s not leaving some groups on the sidelines.

The Allan Brooks Nature Centre and the Okanagan Science Centre have expressed concern that GVAC is using too narrow of a definition of culture for a planning process, and they are insisting that they have seats at the table.

“That will all come out as part of our process,” said Juliette Cunningham, GVAC chairperson.

“We want to delve into the scope of what we want to fund.”

In a letter to GVAC, the Okanagan Science Centre challenges the terms of reference for the cultural master plan for Greater Vernon.

“Our primary concern is the plan defines culture, for its purposes, as relating primarily to only two aspects of our varied and diverse culture — arts and heritage,” said Steve Brandner, OSC chairperson.

“This definition completely fails to recognize science as the significant component of our culture that it is.”

Brandner says that given the definition being used, the 30 to 35 people on a steering committee will consist of people that fit into arts and heritage.

“With a group that big, is there not room for science to be represented? If science doesn’t fit in with this group and isn’t included in this plan, where does it belong and how is it represented?” he said.

Brandner points out that an initiative in 2011 referenced science as being part of culture.

The Allan Brooks Nature Centre is also making a case to be part of the cultural plan.

“If intended to be inclusive, the strategic plan should extend and recognize all cultural organizations and assets of our region of which ANBC  is one,” said Aaron Deans, executive director.

“By not doing so, this plan undervalues the contribution that organizations like ABNC provides to the quality of life and culture in the North Okanagan.”

Even if the science centre and ABNC are not appointed to the steering committee, Cunningham says they are not being ignored.

“These groups will have an opportunity for input,” she said, adding that the goal of the process is to be inclusive.

“The consultant has experience with trying to get this kind of information.”