Vernon councillors directed staff to negotiate the sale for one-half of the Vernon Block for the new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre with its partners in the Regional District of North Okanagan.
Two years ago, council approved the sale of one-third of the Vernon Block, located at 2910 32nd Avenue, at fair market value, but it was later determined one-third was not enough for the future facility and other potential sites were set aside, the report reads.
City councillors voted unanimously Monday, Aug. 17, to direct administration to negotiate the conditions of sale and purchase agreement with the RDNO for one-half of the lot and come back to council chambers Sept. 14, ahead of an Oct. 1, 2020federal grant deadline.
The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday, Aug. 18, it welcomes the leadership by Vernon’s elected officials for the new cultural centre in the downtown core.
“We appreciate the unity among the seven members of Vernon council as it shows clear support for the cultural centre and the significant impact the facility will have on the community, particularly with tourism and revitalizing downtown,” chamber president Krystin Kempton said.
Coun. Brian Quiring proposed the idea that the other half of the Vernon Block be used to develop a park.
While discussing the survey results surrounding the proposed park slated for the former Civic Arena site, Quiring suggested that plan be relocated to the Vernon Block.
Quiring suggested the Civic Arena site be put up for sale as it is ideal land for development, while the park moves to the unused half of the Vernon Block to attract users to the future cultural centre.
“(The cultural centre) is in our downtown and we haven’t considered what we can do and how it will fit in the urban fabric,” Quiring said.
Quiring also suggested the Cenotaph Park be consolidated into the same potential green space while its current location, on the corner of 31 Avenue and 30th Street, could then be transformed into a parkade.
Council voted to pause the planning of the park slated for the Civic Arena site for two months.
The local chamber also showed interest in Quiring’s proposal.
“This is a vision that could not only create a new park but anchor the adjacent cultural centre as a destination for residents and visitors,” Kempton said. “It definitely needs to be investigated further in terms of costs and logistics.”
Kempton said there is an “extremely tight timeline” for this land sale between the city and RDNO as the district is to submit a grant application to Ottawa in early October.
“We are confident the elected officials and staff at the city and RDNO are committed to cooperatively making this great project move ahead,” she said. “Success also depends on partnerships with the District of Coldstream and local cultural organizations.”