Greater Vernon heads to referendum on new arena

A referendum will be held Nov. 28 to borrow $13.25 million to twin Kal Tire Place.

Greater Vernon officials have left the bench and hit the ice in an attempt to garner voter support.

It was announced Wednesday that a referendum will be held Nov. 28 to borrow $13.25 million to twin Kal Tire Place.

“It’s a compressed time scale,” said David Sewell, Regional District of North Okanagan chief administrative officer.

The Ministry of Community Development had been withholding approval of the referendum bylaw process, but final assent came Wednesday, paving the way for a referendum date to be set.

The arena would be owned by RDNO and operated by the City of Vernon. Title would be transferred to the city in 20 years, bringing it in line with other local recreation facilities.

Sewell is confident that all procedures for the referendum will be met.

“We’ve been preparing for this and the City of Vernon is working on the communications side. We are prepared,” he said.

It is hoped that ice user groups will help make the public aware of the need to replace the aging Civic Arena as an ice sheet and expand Kal Tire Place to the north.

“They are anxiously waiting and I am sure they are prepared to get the word out,” said Juliette Cunningham, Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson.

However, there could be some challenges, including opposition from the Vernon Farmers Market, which uses the Kal Tire Parking lot where the arena would be constructed.

The Vernon Public Art Gallery had also asked that borrowing for a new gallery also be on the ballot, but that won’t occur.

Cunningham says GVAC is currently exploring the future of cultural facilities and it would be premature to hold a referendum before those discussions are done.

“It’s a process that we’re well down the road on,” she said.

Five polling stations have been identified for the Nov. 28 referendum in Vernon, Coldstream and the BX, while advance voting would take place Nov. 18 and 25.