Vernon fully endorses recreation master plan

Draft still to go to Coldstream council and Regional District North Okanagan electoral areas B and C

The finish line is in sight for the Greater Vernon Recreation Master Plan.

The final draft document was presented to the sitting Vernon council, at its final regular meeting, Tuesday morning, and will be presented to Coldstream council for endorsement Tuesday night.

“The plan is just that: a plan,” said Doug Ross, director of recreation services for the City of Vernon, who presented the final plan draft along with consultants Gabi Haas and Mike Roman. “It’s what the community has told us they want in the future for recreation, so it’s our roadmap to the future.”

RELATED: Greater Vernon recreation master plan goes to officials

The original plan contained 30 recommendations in four categories – put together after consultation with the public and elected officials — and still does.

The language of the document has been tweaked and the only recommendation has had a significant change.

“It’s in regards to introducing an event coordinator position,” said Roma. “We’ve changed the wording to ‘consider,’ and changed some of the discussion around it based on feedback and discussions we’ve had in the last few days with Doug about reallocating existing staff.

“It is something as a function Doug will initially cover with reallocation, but eventually may lead to a full-on position, like in the short- to medium-term time horizon.”

The 30 recommendations fall under the categories: service delivery, programming, general infrastructure and asset management, and recreation facilities. Each category’s recommendations are listed as either high, medium or low priority, the timing for the recommendation, that is, short-term, medium-term, long-term or ongoing, and each recommendation also has a financial impact attached to it, ranging from N/A (not available) to five dollar signs. The more dollar signs, the higher the cost.

As Haas pointed out, a theme heard throughout the engagement process was the need or want for a new pool in Vernon. Ross said politicians endorsing the plan right now are not saying ‘yes’ to a new 50-metre, 25-metre or leisure pool. They’re saying ‘yes’ to the plan to look into those things.

“Along any journey, you have to make decisions,” he said. “Some of those are bigger than others. Small decisions of an operational nature are made within recreation services because we’re responsible for the governance of recreation through the City of Vernon. Other decisions, the bigger ones, say for the development of facilities, those do require unanimous support from our partners, so we’d be going back to our partners and requesting they buy into that.”

RELATED: Master recreation plan in works

In her final meeting, Coun. Juliette Cunningham, also the chairperson for the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, said the plan has been a great exercise and she was quite impressed with the process.

“The consultants and Mr. Ross did a really good job,” she said. “Often we get reports and studies from consultants that leave something to be desired, in my opinion. This is one of the best ones I’ve seen in my 10 years as a councillor.”

Mayor Akbal Mund, who is seeking re-election as a councillor, thanked Ross and the consultants for getting the plan to where it’s at.

“I look forward to what we see in the next 10 years, for sure, what kind of development we do see in terms of recreational facilities,” said Mund.

Vernon and Coldstream councils voted unanimously to advise electoral area B and C directors of their support. Should the plan be endorsed by all, Vernon council will direct its administration to report back and supply an action plan for the implementation of the short-term, high priority recommendations in the plan by Jan. 28, 2019.

Coun. Brian Quiring declared a potential conflict of interest and did not take part in discussions or the vote.

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