Politicians appeal arena ruling

Officials will attempt to stickhandle the arena issue around provincial opposition

Officials will attempt to stickhandle the arena issue around provincial opposition.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee voted Thursday to challenge a provincial government ruling not to allow it to borrow money to expand Kal Tire Place because the facility is owned by the City of Vernon.

“We believe we have grounds for an appeal” said chairperson Juliette Cunningham, who would not elaborate on GVAC’s legal strategy.

The government’s actions forced GVAC to back off a borrowing referendum with the Nov. 15 civic election.

If the appeal is shot down, a backup plan has been developed.

The next step would be to hold a borrowing referendum for an expansion of Kal Tire Place. RDNO would own the facility and be responsible for debt servicing, and then lease it long-term to the city, which would take over maintenance and control.

This plan fits in with the new recreation model, which sees the city owning facilities within its boundary and the other jurisdictions paying for access.

“We’re just preparing for the next step,” said Cunningham if the appeal is blocked.

The goal is to hold a referendum in spring 2015 to replace the aging ice sheet at Civic Arena.

“Residents from the entire area will get a say at one time,” said director Jim Garlick.

However, Regional District of North Okanagan staff caution a spring vote may not be possible.

“We want to move this as expeditiously as possible but the province has a key role in setting the date because it will be reviewing its decision,” said David Sewell, chief administrative officer.

A delayed referendum could mean that the scope of a new ice sheet and the original $13 million price tag could be considered further.

“A review of what goes to referendum will certainly be necessary,” said director Bob Fleming.

Director Mike Macnabb says a further study of an ice sheet would follow a process similar to that for the sports complex under construction at Okanagan College.

“We had to cut millions of dollars off of it and I hope we would do that here,” he said.