Sports complex heads to a vote

Referendum to borrown $8.5 million for a track and multi-use field at Okanagan College scheduled for April 6

After years of discussion, a proposed sports complex is going before voters.

Greater Vernon residents will be asked in an April 6 referendum to borrow $8.5 million to construct a track and multi-use field at Okanagan College.

“There’s a lot of appetite for it but it’s something the public must decide,” said Catherine Lord, a Greater Vernon Advisory Committee director.

“I certainly support sports and it will benefit our youth. It will also provide another facility for hosting events and support the economy.”

If approved, the funds would be borrowed over 20 years and the average cost per household could be between $17 and $20 a year.

But director Bob Fleming points out that debt from a previous project will soon be retired, and that could impact borrowing for the sports complex.

“It may not involve a tax increase,” he said.

Director Jim Garlick acknowledges, though, that some residents will oppose borrowing and question the need for the facility.

“It’s always a tough sell when it comes to money,” he said.

Annual operating costs  — about $40,000 — will be identified prior to the referendum.

The next step will be establishing a committee of user groups to promote the complex.

“We will come up with a plan to provide accurate information to the public,” said Bill Tarr, with the Vernon Minor Football Association.

“I’m cautious because we’re asking the public for a fair chunk of change.”