Parks plan carries $12 million cost

Vernon council received a draft of the parks master plan Monday

Being responsible for parks won’t come cheap for the City of Vernon.

Council received a draft of the parks master plan Monday, and the total price tag to implement the document is $12 million over 10 years.

“This is new to us,” said Cleo Corbett, long-range planner, of the city taking over control of most parks from the Regional District of North Okanagan.

“Parks have only been under our jurisdiction for five months.”

Of the $12 million price tag, it’s expected that $6.6 million will come from grants, community contributions, development cost charges and surplus land sales by the city.

However, that leaves an estimated shortfall of $5.4 million, which could possibly be covered by a 1.7 per cent tax increase. This option will be considered further through public consultation.

Of the $12 million, $3 million is earmarked for future enhancements to Polson Park.

“Three million will get us more than the zero per cent of a $9 million plan that never came forward (from RDNO),” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

Another item in the draft plan is possible redevelopment of the Civic Arena site into a park.

However, even if a new ice sheet is constructed at Kal Tire Place, Coun. Catherine Lord believes there could be other uses for Civic Arena instead of demolishing it.

“The plan presupposes that we dispose of the current Civic and that hasn’t been decided yet. I don’t want that cast in concrete in the plan,” she said.

Ongoing legal battles between the city and the Okanagan Equestrian Society mean the Kin Race Track is not in the parks plan.

“The future of the site is not known but there are significant recreational opportunities there,” said Corbett.