Facility deal generates split

There is the possibility of turning over ownership of all recreational facilities to Vernon

Politicians are divided over how long they may be together in a restructured recreation structure.

There is the possibility of turning over ownership of all recreational facilities to Vernon, with Coldstream and the electoral areas providing an annual operating grant. But while Vernon has suggested a 15-year agreement term, the other participants have indicated an interest in only a five-year period.

“It keeps our pencils sharp. We need to answer our residents all of the time on rates,” said Jim Garlick, Coldstream mayor.

“A five-year period allows us to look at the service and make sure we’re getting value for money for all sides involved.”

The city has stated it wants a 15-year agreement to provide certainty, particularly with large financial matters. However, it has suggested renegotiation or withdrawal could occur every five years.

“We’re taking over ownership over the long-term and not five years,” said Catherine Lord, a Vernon councillor.

“I worry about new politicians (in the future) saying, ‘This has been done for five years and what other options do we have?’”

Juliette Cunningham, Vernon councillor, doesn’t believe the other jurisdictions should be concerned.

“Our motivation is like Coldstream and B and C’s and that’s to have the best value for our citizens,” she said.

Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director, doesn’t support the city’s position.

“If you can have a term for 15 years but pull out after five years, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“It muddies the water. it gives an impression that’s not true and not correct.”

Under the proposed structure, Vernon could own the key recreation facilities, including possibly Kal Tire Place, and make all of the decisions.

Coldstream and the electoral areas would not have a say in operations but they would provide an annual grant to ensure facility access for their residents.

Presently, some of the facilities are owned by the Regional District of North Okanagan and the city, while operations are provided by the city under contract.

If an agreement was not renewed by a jurisdiction, it is possible Vernon could charge those residents more to use facilities. But all officials believe that situation is unlikely.

 

“There would be such push-back from residents and we will take every step to avoid that,” said Garlick.