Vernon residents agreed last October to borrow up to $25 million for a cultural centre. (Contributed)

Elected officials lobby for government grants for Vernon cultural centre

Planning process underway for the $40 million project

Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce

Senior government is being lobbied to support a new cultural centre in Greater Vernon.

The Regional District of North Okanagan’s Greater Vernon Advisory Committee hopes to meet with Lisa Beare, B.C.’s arts and culture minister, about grants to construct a multi-purpose facility, including a new museum and public art gallery.

“If you don’t ask (for funds), you don’t get,” said Akbal Mund, GVAC chairperson.

It’s hoped a meeting with Beare could occur within the next month, and her awareness of the community’s desire for a cultural centre will result in provincial support.

“Face to face is critical,” said Victor Cumming, Vernon director, of establishing relationships with senior government.

Representatives from the Vernon Public Art Gallery were recently in Ottawa to pursue federal grant opportunities for a cultural centre.

Greater Vernon residents agreed last October to borrow up to $25 million for a cultural centre, but completion of the $40 million project will depend on government grants and fundraising. However, initial steps for the new multi-purpose cultural centre have been identified.

The RDNO will hire a project manager to support and organize the work associated with the business plan development and the project moving forward.

“This will start to connect the consultants,” said Tannis Nelson, RDNO’s community services manager.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee supports the current planning approach but there are some questions about the process.

“What I’m looking for is a timeline. Where do we need to be? Are we behind or are we proceeding?” said Akbal Mund, GVAC chairperson.

Victor Cumming, Vernon director, believes there is a need to look at the square footage for the building and the construction cost per square foot.

“We don’t know the difference between what people will pay for and what’s on a Christmas list. I would encourage us to be really flexible as we move forward,” he said.

“The public did vote for it knowing the size (of the facility),” said Amanda Shatzko, Area C director.

Related: Vernon Cultural Centre plans move forward

Related: Everything you need to know about Vernon’s Cultural Centre Referendum

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