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

Vernon chamber encouraged by direction of cultural centre planning

The chamber endorsed the local advisory committee’s recommendations on next steps

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by recent developments in the planning of a new cultural centre.

On Wednesday, members of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee (GVAC) unanimously recommended the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) work with the City of Vernon to finalize the sale of the parking lot at 2910 32nd Avenue in Vernon, to serve as the site for the multi-purpose facility.

“It’s great to see forward movement on this important matter and we thank the elected officials and staff from RDNO, City of Vernon and District of Coldstream for their participation in the process,” Greater Vernon Chamber president Krystin Kempton said Thursday, Aug. 13.

A 2018 referendum authorized the city to borrow $25 million towards the estimated $40-million project — a result Kempton says signalled a high level of support for the project from the local community.

“By approving borrowing of up to $25 million, Greater Vernon residents made it clear that they support a cultural centre that celebrates the arts and our history, provides much-needed community space and bolsters the economy through revitalization of downtown Vernon,” Kempton said.

“The 32nd Avenue site makes all of these aspirations possible.”

GVAC has also passed a motion to look into sizing down the proposed facility by as much as 20 per cent as a cost-saving measure.

A working group comprised of the mayors of Coldstream and Vernon and directors of Electoral Areas B and C has been established to move the project forward and is investigating the possibility of downsizing the building, among other considerations.

The chamber also endorsed GVAC’s recommendation for a federal or provincial grant application for the project, and has provided the district with a letter of support to be included in the package.

“There is a tight timeline before the grant deadline Oct. 1, 2020, but we are hopeful that everyone involved – RDNO, the City of Vernon, District of Coldstream and cultural organizations – will remain focused and cooperative and ensure that this priority project is embraced by senior government,” Kempton said.

“The chamber is ready to assist in any way to make the vision of a cultural centre a reality for the Greater Vernon community.”

READ MORE: Square footage may be revisited for Vernon cultural centre

READ MORE: Vernon chamber puts spotlight on new cultural centre

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