Members of the Vernon Ringette Association urge motorists to vote yes for a twinned Kal Tire Place Saturday.

Members of the Vernon Ringette Association urge motorists to vote yes for a twinned Kal Tire Place Saturday.

New arena gets green light from Greater Vernon voters

A majority of residents who cast ballots Saturday agreed to borrow $13.2 million

Greater Vernon is getting a new arena.

A referendum to borrow $13.2 milllion to twin Kal Tire Place passed Saturday with 4,265 votes in favour. There were 3,331 no votes within Vernon, Coldstream and Areas B and C.

“It’s a good indication that there was support. It’s good news,” said Juliette Cunningham, Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson.

“Quite a few seniors voted yes because of their grandchildren or neighbourhood kids. They realize that we need amenities to make the community attractive for families.”

The new facility will replace the ice sheet at the almost 80-year-old Civic Arena.

Had the referendum failed, Cunningham says it would have been challenging to keep Civic operating given its failing condition.

The successful referendum result is being embraced by local sports groups, including minor hockey, ringette and lacrosse.

“It’s really good. I’m really happy,” said Cameron Grant, spokesperson for the user groups leading up to the vote.

“It means that people understand we have to rebuild infrastructure that benefits all of us.”

A final design for the new ice sheet will now be developed over the next nine to to 12 months and it’s anticipated that the new arena will be completed by the fall of 2018.

“We will have to make sure Civic remains functional,” said Cunningham, pointing out that minor hockey and other groups will still rely on Civic while the new facility is constructed.

But activities could abruptly come to an end if Civic’s refrigeration system fails before 2018.

“We have to keep our fingers crossed because it would be a scramble for user groups,” said Cunningham.

According to the Regional District of North Okanagan, a residence assessed at $350,000 will pay $24 annually for 20 years for construction of the new ice sheet.