Process proceeds for new ice sheet

The first step will be determining the best project delivery model for the design and construction

Now that voters have spoken, there will be a lot of work behind the scenes before Greater Vernon’s new arena opens.

As a result of Saturday’s successful referendum, the City of Vernon and Regional District of North Okanagan will begin the process to twin Kal Tire Place.

“There will be considerable public consultation during the process,” said Doug Ross, the city’s recreation services director.

The first step will be determining the best project delivery model for the design and construction of the facility. After that, tenders will be issued for design work and construction.

The design will be hammered out over nine to 12 months and it’s anticipated that the new arena will be completed by the fall of 2018.

Another major focus during 2016 will be looking at ways to reduce the burden on local taxpayers.

“It gives us a year to look at senior government grant opportunities,” said Ross.

One aspect of construction that could occur next year is a new parking area along Alexis Park Drive to replace the parking lost to the new arena.

The referendum to borrow $13.2 million to twin Kal Tire Place passed Saturday with 4,265 votes or 56 per cent in favour. There were 3,331 no votes or 44 per cent.

“It’s a good indication that there was support. It’s good news,” said Juliette Cunningham, Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson.

“Quite a few seniors voted yes because of their grandchildren or neighbourhood kids. They realize that we need amenities to make the community attractive for families.”

The new facility will replace the ice sheet at the almost 80-year-old Civic Arena.

“If the referendum hadn’t gone through, there was no plan B,” said Jim Garlick, Coldstream director.

The push for a new facility came from minor hockey, ringette, lacrosse and many in the business sector.

“It’s really good. I’m really happy,” said Cameron Grant, who campaigned for a yes vote on behalf of user groups.

“It means that people understand we have to rebuild infrastructure that benefits all of us.”

However, Civic won’t be decommissioned any time soon as its ice surface will still be needed as the new facility is designed and constructed.

“We will have to make sure Civic remains functional,” said Cunningham, adding, though, that the refrigeration system could fail at any time.

“We have to keep our fingers crossed because it would be a scramble for user groups.”

Turnout during the referendum was 16 per cent with 47,466 people eligible to vote.

“My frustration is the apathy. This (project) is significant for the community so I was hoping for more,” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.

“It’s not like there wasn’t controversy or discussion so we should have expected more.”