A conceptual design of Vernon's Active Living Centre, which will go to a referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)

Referendum on track for new $121M Vernon rec centre

Despite opposition from Coldstream, rural areas and increased costs

Vernon is moving forward with plans for an active living centre despite its neighbours bowing out of the process.

Council agreed to stay the course for the up to $121 million project, moving ahead with the October 2022 referendum, in conjunction with the municipal election.

Based on public engagement, a preferred option was identified to build a single multi-purpose recreation facility – the Active Living Centre. The facility is to include a new aquatic facility, double gymnasium, fitness centre, walking/running track, and dedicated program spaces.

The decision comes days after the District of Coldstream and electoral areas B and C decided to not take part in the project.

READ MORE: Coldstream, rural areas bow out of Vernon’s active living centre project

“We are not opposed to this project in principle as we agree there is a legitimate community need for a new pool and additional recreational spaces. However, we do not have the confidence to move forward at this time based on the information that has been provided,” reads a statement from Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick, Area B director Bob Fleming and Area C director Amanda Shatzko.

Coldstream had previously notified Vernon that it wouldn’t entertain participating in the active living facility project until the culture facility project was resolved.

Timing, market volatility, accuracy of costing, contractual obligations, ownership structure and lack of detailed information were all factors that led to the latest Coldstream and rural area decision to stay away from the project for now.

“Given these unknowns, it is not prudent for our jurisdictions to participate at this time,” the officials said.

Vernon council agreed to move forward with the referendum at its April 11 council meeting. The city would be the owner, operator and manager of the facility.

But the new cost is 25-35 per cent higher than the original $90 million due to inflation. Based on 2023 potential costs, the new price tag is between $112-121 million.

“Vernon city council has confidence in the outcomes of the master plan and feasibility study processes and believes the proposed facilities included in the Active Living Centre reflect the identified recreation needs of citizens of Vernon and the Greater Vernon communities,” a city statement reads.

“The city of Vernon will continue to offer the opportunity for neighbour jurisdictions to join the project at a later date, either through the existing Recreation Agreement or through Fee for Service Agreements.”

For more information on the project, visit gvrec.ca.

READ MORE: Is this the time for Vernon cultural and active living centres?


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