It’s increasingly uncertain what multi-million-dollar projects could seek residents’ support.
The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee was considering a referendum for a $7.8 million sports complex, but it learned Thursday the Vernon Recreation Complex needs $2 million in repairs and could be replaced. There is also the issue of expanded space for the art gallery and the museum.
“There are a lot of capital projects that there’s pressure for,” said director Juliette Cunningham.
Director Jim Garlick admits conditions at the recreation complex could possibly impact other proposed initiatives.
“This has come out of nowhere,” he said of staff’s report about problems with the dehumidification system and heating lines at the complex.
Director Rob Sawatzky isn’t convinced the art gallery and museum should be part of the equation.
“It’s up to them to advocate to us and they haven’t approached us,” he said of GVAC.
“They haven’t said they’re asking for capital money or that they want to go to referendum.”
Cunningham doesn’t support Sawatzky’s views.
“Taxpayers are already facing financial pressures and we have to be realistic that there are different factions out there — sports and culture,” she said.
The city recently gave the Vernon Public Art Gallery a deadline to initiate a planning process for a piece of city-owned land downtown.
“We’ve given them a year’s window so a referendum could be imminent,” said Cunningham.
The next step is to determine projected costs for a new recreation complex.
“The price may be so huge, we’ll spend the $2 million (for repairs), and that will fall off of the table,” said Garlick, of a replacement building.
A special GVAC meeting will be held in January to discuss the recreation complex, the sports complex, art gallery and museum.
“There’s a lot of demand for tax dollars and it’s incumbent on us to sort it out,” said director Mike Macnabb.
But Macnabb doesn’t support possibly having one referendum that would ask residents to fund all of the facilities at once.
“In today’s financial climate, that’s not the best way to do it,” he said, adding that any process leading to referendums will have to involve public consultation.