Vernon chooses cultural sites, discussion ensues

Locations have been identified for cultural amenities but it’s not guaranteed they will go there.

Locations have been identified for cultural amenities but it’s not guaranteed they will go there.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee will take an active role now that the City of Vernon has supported the concept of an art gallery at the former flower shop on 31st Avenue and expansion of the existing museum to address ongoing space constraints.

“We will listen to the reasons behind them,” said Jim Garlick, a GVAC director.

“Then we will make a decision to confirm them or not.”

GVAC, which is responsible for culture, asked the city to determine locations for new facilities.

Before sites are agreed to, Garlick wants to hear from the Greater Vernon Museum and Vernon Public Art Gallery.

“We have to go to the users and get their feedback and how they can use them,”  he said.

Rob Sawatzky, Vernon mayor, supports the decision of his council on locations.

“It’s a logical, thorough analysis,” he said, adding that while some residents have suggested both agencies be on one property, that isn’t viable.

“They (groups) don’t want that and are on different timelines.”

Sawatzky isn’t sure what will occur if GVAC doesn’t support the sites proposed by the city.

“The process will be more difficult reaching a successful conclusion,” he said.

Greater Vernon Museum officials are disappointed with city council’s actions.

“They say we can get a 30,000-square-foot building on this site and I’m not sure how we will do it,” said Ian Hawes, museum president, of the requirement for exhibit space, storage and climate control.

“No matter what we do with this site, we won’t have a class A facility. If it’s not a class A facility, why are we doing it?”

Hawes is also frustrated council made a decision without input from his group.

“This community needs a vision. Where do we want to be 15, 20 or 30 years from now?” he said.

VPAG already has plans for the flower shop site.

“It’s in GVAC’s hands to decide where we go from here,” said Dauna Kennedy Grant, executive director.

Kennedy Grant would like a spring referendum so a new gallery can be ready for a major print event in 2015.

“There’s still a chance we can do that,” she said.

It’s been suggested that an art gallery could cost $5 million whereas a stand-alone museum could be up to $10 million. No costs for expanding the present museum have been provided.


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