In addition to a new recreation facility, the Vernon Aquatic Centre will be renovated as part of the city’s Recreation Master Plan. (Chris Sharpe/Google Street View photo)

Have your say on Vernon’s future recreation facility

Thursday marked the first of a series of pop-up events for public input around the city

People in Vernon and the surrounding area made it clear last year they want to see more recreation services in the city.

Now they’ll have a number of chances to help shape the future of recreation in the Greater Vernon area.

The city is conducting a feasibility study to figure out what kind of recreation facility is wanted. To find out, the city is hosting a series of pop-up events where people can provide their input.

The first event took place at the Farmer’s Market in the parking lot of Kal Tire Place last Thursday.

Doug Ross, director of recreation services, said the event went as well as they could have hoped.

“A number of people filled out surveys and a bunch more took surveys with them and are going to turn them in later at the recreation centre,” he said.

The feasibility study is an extension of the city’s Recreation Master Plan, which was developed throughout 2018 and produced 30 recommendations, one being to develop a new recreation facility in the community.

The future facility is being dubbed an “active living centre,” which will include aquatics and much more.

“It’s not just an aquatic centre,” said Ross.

“There’s gymnasiums, there’s a fitness centre, walking and running track and dedicated program spaces where we can hold recreation programs, whether that be a dance class or yoga class or a child-minding course.

“All of those things were endorsed by all the elected officials in Greater Vernon last year.”

READ MORE: Recreation guide brings new programs to Penticton

An important goal of the pop-up sessions is to set a budget for the project, which hinges on balancing the wish list put forward by the public and how much residents are willing to pay in user fees or a potential tax increase.

“We need to find a facility that the community believes fits their needs but also fits their pocketbook. The community has to be able to afford the facilities that we develop, otherwise there’s no point in moving forward,” Ross said.

Each pop-up event will be more or lest the same as the last, but in a different location. The next pop-up will take place Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Village Green Mall, 8:30 a.m. On Wednesday, Nov. 6, it will move to to Coldstream Municipal Hall, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Residents will also be able to fill out a survey online after Oct. 21.

On Nov. 24, the city will have an open house from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. where people will be able to come and take a look at some conceptual designs and start to get an idea of the price-tag.

The designs will be created based on feedback from the public by consulting firm Falkland Brown.

On top of the plans for a new facility, the city will gather feedback on renovations to the existing Vernon Aquatic Centre

The city already has hundreds of submitted surveys and there are still six more pop-up events coming up over the next six weeks.

“It’s a very good start,” said Ross.

“A lot of people said it’s long overdue and we need it in the community, and lots of good positive comments.”

READ MORE: Swap gets Okanagan skiers and boarders in gear

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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