Facility referendum looms in spring

Proposed sports facility at Okanagan College likely pitched to residents in spring

One Regional District of North Okanagan official presumes a referendum on borrowing funds for a proposed sports facility at Okanagan College will go ahead in the spring.

Tannis Nelson, the community development coordinator with RDNO, gave Greater Vernon Advisory Committee directors an update into the ongoing process since it was announced that a facility would be built at the college, and after the Agricultural Land Commission gave the regional district a deadline of having the facility completely constructed by November 2014.

“We have a recommended timeline and we’re undergoing two concurrent processes, community education and legislative,” said Nelson. “The legislative process is driven by the regional district. The community education is driven by the community with the support of the regional district for truthful facts on the project.”

Nelson said the regional district is meeting with the community groups identified as key stakeholders for the future facility, including track and field, walkers, minor football, Kal RATS running and triathlon club, field lacrosse, rugby, the Vernon school district, and Interior Health.

They are discussing what the group’s capacities are for advocating for the facility and do they have a time commitment and support for going into a referendum.

“What is that timing, what is their ideal voting day, we’re working alongside them and we’re in that process now,” said Nelson. “We’re presuming we’re going to referendum in the spring.”

From the legislative side, Nelson said there are a couple of key milestones that will help determine the final timeline.

There will be a need to develop a loan authorization bylaw to borrow up to $8.5 million for the facility, and the question that will appear on the referendum ballot which will have to be passed by the appropriate authorities.

The approval of the inspector of municipalities will be required. If passed by the inspector, the vote must be held within 80 days, and a referendum notice would have to be issued no more than 30 days prior to the vote.

“We haven’t determined dates at this point because we haven’t pinned down dates,” said Nelson. “We have identified months.”

If things go as expected, pre-consultation planning, public consultation, facility design and tender would take place between January and April 2013.

Construction on the facility would start in November 2013.

“With the design and tendering process, along with the referendum, done in the spring, this should give us plenty of time to start construction in November,” said Nelson. “There shouldn’t be any concerns starting then.”

GVAC directors Bob Fleming and Rob Sawatsky both thought the original pricetag for the facility was in the neighbourhood of $6 or $6.5 million.

“It’s an easy way for the referendum to fail if the numbers keep going up,” said Fleming.

Nelson assured directors that a resolution had been passed to borrow $8.5 million and that the original design estimate was $7.8 million.

“The referendum gives us the authority to borrow $8.5 million, it doesn’t mean we’ll spend $8.5 million,” she said. “If the tender comes in at $6 million, that’s what we’ll spend. We wouldn’t borrow more than we need.”