Vernon residents agreed October 2018 to borrow up to $25 million for a cultural centre. (Contributed)

Square footage may be revisited for Vernon cultural centre

Greater Vernon Cultural Centre could see size shrink up to 20 per cent as cost-savings measure

The Greater Vernon Cultural Centre could be at least 20 per cent smaller than planned if that’s what elected officials decide.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee (GVAC) passed a motion to investigate sizing down the facility as a potential cost-savings measure. Further discussions are to take place when GVAC meets Wednesday, Aug. 12.

A working group established to move the project forward, which includes the mayors of Coldstream and Vernon and directors of Electoral Areas B and C, have already met twice to discuss land and next steps.

From those meetings, notice of motions were submitted for consideration to be discussed at the August meeting of GVAC, including the sale of the Vernon Block at 2910 32nd Avenue finalized.

The working group is also looking to refine the functional program of the centre to reduce building size by up to 20 per cent, update operational and construction costs associated with the revision, identify cost-phasing options available for the site and develop an artists’ rendering for the entire site.

The working group’s deadline is slated for Sept. 25, 2020, ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline for a federal grant application.

“This is a great deal of work to complete over the next two months,” the report to GVAC reads. “It is recommended that funding be approved at this meeting if it is the desire of the committee to proceed with a grant application for the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline.”

An additional $35,500 is sought to cover consulting fees. If approved, the funds will be added to the remaining budget of $54,500 for the total 2020 project budget of $128,000.

A referendum was passed authorizing the City of Vernon to borrow $25 million toward the estimated $40-million facility in October 2018.

In June, the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce urged local governments to expedite the planning processes.

In a letter to the Regional District of North Okanagan, chamber president Krystin Kempton said the planning of the new multi-purpose facility taking too long was worrisome and could face repercussions.

“Our concern is that the process is taking some time and the public momentum before and after the referendum has been negatively impacted by this delay,” the June 18, 2020, letter reads.

The chamber also recommended reviewing the overall square footage of the facility as a way of reducing costs.

“While easing the financial burden on taxpayers should always be a priority, we would hope that the long-term needs of a growing community will be considered,” Kempton wrote, noting additions in the future are costly.

READ MORE: It’s a YES for the cultural centre

READ MORE: Vernon chamber puts spotlight on new cultural centre


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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