Public consent may be sought to borrow funds to construct a track and field facility at Okanagan College’s Kalamalka campus

Public consent may be sought to borrow funds to construct a track and field facility at Okanagan College’s Kalamalka campus

Pitch made to public to fund track facility

Referendum on track for new sports facility in Greater Vernon

Borrowing money to pay for a new sports facility in Greater Vernon is on track for referendum.

Greater Vernon Advisory Committee voted unanimously Thursday to recommend to the Regional District of North Okanagan directors that staff acquire public consent for debt financing through referendum to a maximum of $8.5 million to build a track and field facility in Greater Vernon.

“It’s always been my philosophy that we should go to referendum so that when we spread out our debt it’s the people who benefit from the facility that will be paying for it,” said GVAC alternate director Bob Spiers from the City of Vernon.

The other option presented to directors for borrowing was the alternate approval process, which would require 10 per cent of the electorate to sign a petition that would defeat a motion to borrow the funding.

Two sites have been proposed for the home of such a facility.

One is Kin Race Track although the track is still mired in a court battle and GVAC does not know when or if the track would become accessible.

The other site is at Okanagan College, where a 5.8 hectare parcel has been identified. The property is within the Agricultural Land Reserve, however non-farm use has been approved by the Agricultural Land Commission as long as the facility is built within three years of November 2011 and that the topsoil on the site is maintained.

A 40-year lease agreement has been established with Okanagan College for the construction of an athletic facility and football and soccer field. The only limitation, states a report to GVAC, would be the financing and the timeliness of the construction.

“This project is a want project, not a need project,” said GVAC director Bob Fleming of Electoral Area B, BX-Swan Lake. “It will be built for the purpose of providing a service for a certain segment of the population, and to make the community better.”

Administrator Trafford Hall warned directors there were pros and cons to both a referendum and the alternate approval process.

“We will manage the process regardless,” said Hall.

If the board approves consent through referendum, then preparation and execution costs would be brought back to GVAC for approval.

 

The report to directors estimates that the average cost per household for debt financing would be between $17 and $20 per year.