Politicians in Victoria lobbying for referendum

Vernon mayor and RDNO chairperson to meet with Community Development Minister Coralee Oakes

Greater Vernon officials are stick-handling bureaucracy.

Representatives from Vernon and the Regional District of North Okanagan will be in Victoria today to lobby Community Development Minister Coralee Oakes for a decision on a borrowing referendum for a new ice sheet.

“We want to resolve the issues with the referendum,” said Akbal Mund, Vernon mayor.

“It’s been in limbo long enough and a face-to-face meeting is better than talking on the phone.”

Last fall, the provincial government blocked RDNO from holding a borrowing referendum for $13 million to expand Kal Tire Place because the facility is owned by the City of Vernon.

“It doesn’t make sense because all four jurisdictions signed off on the process,” said Mund.

“They (Victoria) say they have a policy against this but we have never seen a policy.”

The goal is to hold a referendum in late spring or this fall so Civic Arena can be replaced as an ice sheet.

“If Civic has problems, 40 per cent of the users will have no ice and 60 per cent will be juggled (among other facilities) and that’s not fair to anyone,” said Mund.

“We know Civic won’t last. We need to get moving on it.”

RDNO has already developed an alternate plan if the ministry sticks to its original decision.

The other option is for a borrowing referendum for a second ice sheet, which would be owned by RDNO. The district would be responsible for debt servicing, and then lease the facility long-term to the city, which would take over maintenance and control.

Besides Mund, the delegation to Victoria will include RDNO chairperson Rick Fairbairn.