Vernon Winter Carnival staying put in city-owned office

Society granted extension as it searches for new facility following eviction notice slated for fall

Deb White

Deb White

Vernon Winter Carnival Society is staying put for the time being.

Given an eviction notice in March from its city-owned office on 35th Avenue, beside the Priest Valley Gym due to safety concerns, carnival board chairperson Deb White convinced council to let the society stay put as it searched for a new facility.

The notice to vacate the facility is for Sept. 15.

“The newly elected board of directors (of Vernon Winter Carnival) has been actively searching for a new home, however, sadly, as of today, we have not been successful in our search,” said White.

“There are so many memories and archives built up over 58 years, such as trophies, scrapbooks, memorabilia which we want to ensure that they find a home that they can be represented and honoured by the citizens of the city.”

The high-water event of 2017 caused extensive flooding in the basement of the facility. That flooding prompted further inspection of the building by city staff who determined the building was “beyond repair and at the end of its useful life.” The information was relayed to representatives of the Winter Carnival and the Funtastic Society, which occupied an office in the facility, in May 2017.

RELATED: City evicting Carnival from office

Both organizations were told the city had no surplus building space and both were encouraged to seek out opportunities with sponsors to provide future office and storage space.

With the real possibility of flooding again this spring, the city recommended that Winter Carnival take steps to remove all items stored in the basement of the building.

“There is no water in the basement of the building as of now,” said White on Monday.

The Carnival office is closed until Sept. 1.

White produced a mould air sampling results letter from a Kelowna company, who conducted tests in May 2017. The tests indicated mould growth “was not significantly impacting on air quality at the time of sampling.”

The project was limited to mould air sampling only. No inspection of the building was conducted at the time of sampling.

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund said the city presented a potential new home for the society that is available, but White said the facility is not suitable for the Carnival’s needs.

Coun. Catherine Lord asked White if Carnival would have sufficient funds at the end of the 2019 event to be able to rent a place somewhere at the current rental rate.

“The space we’re offering, which is a much smaller space, would be at a fairly reasonable rent,” said Lord.

White said the Carnival has not discussed rent.

“Right now, we pay the utilities and the liability (insurance,” said White. “It’s an older building, of course, so costs for utilities are higher. We have worked very, very hard and we are very proud of where we are moving so we expect our bank account will look a lot more healthier next year.

“We understand we can’t stay in the building but to find a home very quickly has been very hard.”

Council unanimously granted an extension for the upcoming year.

The 59th annual Vernon Winter Carnival, with its theme A Pirate’s Carnival, will run Feb. 1-10, 2019.

RELATED: Pirate theme for 2019 Vernon Winter Carnival

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