Decision looms on sports complex plan

The fate of a proposed Coldstream sports complex could be known as early as this week.

The fate of a proposed sports complex could be known as early as this week.

Representatives from Okanagan College and Greater Vernon went before the Agricultural Land Commission in Burnaby Tuesday to pitch a track facility and sports field on 10 acres at the Kalamalka campus in Coldstream.

“They will get back to us in a couple of days,” said Jim Garlick, Coldstream mayor, immediately after the meeting.

“We didn’t feel it was a negative response. They want to look at it closely.”

The site is within the Agricultural Land Reserve and in April the provincial ALC shot down a bid for non-farm use status which was needed so a sports complex could be constructed.

At the time, ALC officials stated the 10 acres is suitable for agricultural activities and a community need for sports facilities had not been clearly demonstrated by Okanagan College and local politicians.

Obtaining non-farm use is still a stumbling block, according to Garlick.

“They want us to realize agriculture must be supported in our community,” he said of the ALC, which has emphasized it would like to see agriculture-related programs developed at the college campus.

Besides Garlick, Tuesday’s presentation included Vernon Coun. Patrick Nicol, Regional District of North Okanagan chairperson Herman Halvorson, Kalamalka campus dean Jane Lister, Okanagan College public affairs director Allan Coyle and Tannis Nelson, RDNO’s community development director.

“We detailed the benefits to the college and the community and the opportunity for agricultural programs at the college,” said Nicol.

“We were told we made a case and they appreciated us coming down in person.”

Garlick is hopeful the ALC will approve the complex and  he says the co-operative approach between all jurisdictions has been a positive experience.

“Everything we could possibly do, we’ve done,” he said of Tuesday’s presentation.

If the ALC grants non-farm status for the property, Vernon, Coldstream and the electoral areas could possibly hold a referendum in the spring to borrow up to $7.8 million for the facility.