Field of sports dreams not dead yet

Plans for a sports complex next to Okanagan College will not be abandoned.

Greater Vernon Advisory Committee officials vow that the Agricultural Land Commission will receive another non-farm use application for 10 acres so a track and other sports amenities can be built.

“There is an ability for reconsideration so we will put together another presentation with more information,” said director Jim Garlick.

“We should carry on and give it another try.”

The ALC recently shot down a bid from Okanagan College for the $7.8 million sports facility because it insists the land has strong agricultural capabilities and it doesn’t believe there was sufficient information about long-term recreational needs in the area.

All GVAC players, as well as the college, will now get together to pursue a new strategy.

“We need to make sure we go forward with one idea in mind,” said Garlick of presenting a unified front.

Director Patrick Nicol wants assurances that more than politicians and regional district staff will be involved in the process.

“At some point, we have to draw the user groups in and they need an opportunity to speak to the ALC,” he said, adding that the complex would support athletes of all ages, the economy and the college.

“It has a great long-term benefit and that shouldn’t be lost.”

According to the ALC, it is difficult to make a decision on the sports complex proposal  without information on current facilities and whether further Agricultural Land Reserve applications will be needed for future expansion needs.

Nicol believes that information already exists.

“We’ve had a master parks plan and this was a piece of that puzzle,” he said of the track concept.

Garlick, though, says the ALC’s approach makes sense.

“The ALC wants to see a package on the big picture of Greater Vernon needs. They don’t want it piece meal,” he said.

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, has discussed the ALC’s ruling with Premier Christy Clark.

“She was sympathetic to the cause,” said Foster who supports the sports complex.

“We don’t want government interference on legislative bodies but situations like this require some consultation. I am hopeful both parties can get together and discuss the matter.”