Efforts to establish free downtown Wifi have been disconnected in favour of some higher priority projects.
Vernon council agreed that upgrades to the runway at Vernon Regional Airport and replacement of some local playgrounds are more urgent than free broadband internet.
“I think free access in the downtown flies in the face of what some of these businesses are trying to promote,” said Coun. Brian Quiring of companies such as the Downtown Internet Lounge.
The idea was to establish free wifi, at a cost of approximately $200,000 along 30th Avenue (between Safeway and Justice Park).
The decision spurs from a special meeting Tuesday, where council approved three grant applications to the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund. There is $18 million available in B.C. for no more than 50 per cent of eligible project costs.
Vernon’s top priority in its grant application is to place runway overlay at the local airport (a $200,000 project that is overdue).
“We have to do the runway, to me that’s the No. 1 priority,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.
The city is also hoping to acquire some funds to replace deteriorating playground equipment at Mission Hill and Kiwanis parks ($150,000). Coun. Patrick Nicol insisted that Alexis Park be included (approximately $50,000).
“Alexis Park is key. Let’s get these done,” said Coun. Nicol of the playgrounds that do not meet CSA safety standards.
In place of internet, Coun. Quiring suggested that the Vernon Community Arts Centre be included in the grant applications for $50,000 upgrades.
The centre is hosting the 2013 Arts B.C. annual conference May 2 and 3 but some renovations are needed to convert an existing storage facility to a coffee/meeting area.
Despite suggestions that the centre should apply for a grant on its own, and that the project falls under the Regional District of North Okanagan’s jurisdiction, Vernon council agreed to include the project in its application.
“It’s just such a vibrant organization and it’s a practical thing that they’re requiring,” said Coun. Nicol, noting that none of the facilities in Polson Park have gained much support at RDNO in the past.
“We have really had no success in getting monies for upgrades at Polson Park.”