Joint referendum urged

Cultural advocates want to put a double-header before Greater Vernon residents

Cultural advocates want to put a double-header before Greater Vernon residents.

The Vernon Public Art Gallery will ask the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee Thursday to add a borrowing referendum for a new gallery on to an anticipated vote to twin Kal Tire Place.

“By combining the vote for a second ice sheet at Kal Tire Place and a new facility for the VPAG, GVAC would be following the precedent set by the successful vote for Kal Tire Place and the Performing Arts Centre in 1999 when the economy was also in a downturn,” said Andrew Powell, VPAG president, in a letter.

“In our view, it would be short sighted and irresponsible not to at least consider holding a joint referendum even if that consideration results in a further month or two of delay before a decision is made.”

Powell suggests that having individual referendums could lead to voter fatigue and less support.

GVAC’s chairperson isn’t speculating on what may be done with the art gallery’s request.

“It will be discussed,” said Juliette Cunningham.

Staff is recommending that the referendum request be added to the agenda of GVAC’s upcoming workshop on cultural facilities.

“We will learn a lot from our facilities discussion,” said Cunningham.

“We have to discuss what we are spending per capita (on culture) and how we compare to other communities.”

While VPAG advocates a single referendum for multiple items, Cunningham believes combined construction dollars could scare voters off.

“The risk is taxpayers are facing lots of demands.”

It’s also not known when a referendum on a new ice sheet may occur because the provincial government has not signed off on the process yet.

In his letter, Powell states that the region has outgrown the art gallery in the parkade.

“We are limited by inadequate space to safely house, exhibit and provide programming for our expanding community,” he said.

“The space is simply not up to the task and our region requires a class A space worthy of our vibrant and growing community. A new class A facility, built with cultural conservation and exhibition in mind, will increase the gallery’s revenues by opening doors to new funding streams such as Canada Council grants, acquisition grants and rental income from event space.”

Powell added that class A galleries can issue tax receipts for donated artwork.

“Just recently, the gallery lost the opportunity to add to the assets of the community’s permanent collection a Rita Letendre original work worth $75,000 because, as a class B facility, we were unable to issue the appropriate tax receipted for donated work. Rita Letendre is a prominent Canadian artist, an officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Governor General’s Award. This loss is a tragedy and is an embarrassment to our community.”