The Vernon Public Art Gallery is increasingly hopeful that plans for a new facility may go before residents sooner than later.
After meetings with local politicians, it’s believed that a spring referendum to borrow funds for an expanded gallery may be possible although the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee voted Wednesday to only include a sports complex on an April 6 ballot.
“We’ve been told there is the potential to move through the clarification of procedures quickly,” said Dauna Kennedy Grant, VPAG executive director.
VPAG and the Greater Vernon Museum had requested referendums linked with the sports complex. But instead, GVAC asked the City of Vernon to determine suitable locations for cultural facilities. Once that is completed, they will be considered by GVAC.
A plan would then be developed towards addressing the future of the art gallery and museum once Greater Vernon has a new cultural service.
Kennedy Grant has talked to GVAC directors Rob Sawatzky, Jim Garlick and Mike Macnabb since Wednesday’s decision was made.
While no promises have been made, Kennedy Grant believes the politicians will expedite their process and a referendum may proceed, although it may not be April 6.
“We don’t want a missed opportunity,” she said of the benefits of a new gallery, including hosting an international print festival in 2015.
“We’ve determined the timeline on some positive economic outcomes. We don’t want to see the project sidelined.”
Sawatzky is unwilling to say when he and his colleagues may have reviewed possible sites for cultural facilities and if residents will be asked to support the borrowing of funds.
“Our intent is to apply a process where we can review the amenities the community wants and needs,” he said.
The first two to be considered concurrently are revising costs for the sports complex and an art gallery. The focus would then go to the museum and eventual replacement of Civic Arena.
Sawatzky insists the goal is to not put roadblocks up before the cultural groups but to ensure specific details are finalized.
“We want to ensure the projects succeed and they will be palatable to the public,” he said.
“There is a spirit and will to work together expeditiously. To be successful, you need a plan that is thoughtful.”
Kennedy Grant has been contacted by residents since GVAC shot down an April 6 referendum.
“We are hearing from some that are horrified and some frustration because the process goes in big circles. We’ve heard there needs to be political support to take this forward,” she said.