A funding strategy has been approved for the planned new cultural centre in downtown Vernon. (Contributed)

Funding plan approved for downtown Vernon cultural centre

The funding strategy includes $4 million to be raised in the community

A funding strategy has been approved for the construction and operation of the planned Greater Vernon Cultural Centre.

After nearly four hours of debate and discussion Wednesday evening, the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee (GVAC) settled on a revised funding scheme for the building’s construction at 2910 32nd Avenue, and for its projected ongoing operational costs.

The approved capital funding strategy accounts for $39.5 million and includes:

  • Borrowing $25 million (approved in 2018 by referendum)
  • Investing in $8.5 million Canada Infrastructure Program – Community, Culture and Recreation Grant
  • $2 million in other grants
  • $4 million in fundraising and donations

READ MORE: Sale of downtown land approved for new Vernon cultural centre

The funding plan sticks to the results of a 2018 referendum that limits Greater Vernon taxpayer funding to $25 million in borrowing, with the remainder of the funding to come from grants and fundraising.

In May, the project team was directed to reduce the building’s square footage by up to 20 per cent to save on costs. Four stakeholder workshops were held, during which the centre’s total square footage was reduced by 21 per cent by shifting to more flexible and adaptable spaces that can be used for multiple purposes.

Exhibition spaces will be designed to be flexible, with moveable walls, and classroom spaces will also serve as meeting rooms and backstage areas for performances. The decision was also made to leave the archives vault in its current location and increase public access to archival documents through digitization and remote terminals in the new building.

While cutting down on the building’s size reduced some of the projected operational costs, GVAC unanimously agreed to provide and additional $286,000 in taxpayer funds annually to cover utility, maintenance and programming costs.

“Submitting grant applications does not guarantee we will be successful in securing the funding, but deciding upon these vital details is an important milestone in the project,” said GVAC Chair Akbal Mund. “Without these approved strategies, our application would be incomplete, so tonight’s decisions were an integral step towards the success of the project.”

READ MORE: Vernon chamber continues calls to expand provincial park

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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