Youth issues challenge to officials to demonstrate vision

Grade 6 student urges politicians to pursue a common facility for all needs

A fresh vision is challenging the status quo over public amenities in Greater Vernon.

Jade Freeman, 11, told the Regional District of North Okanagan board Wednesday that competing sports and culture interests must come together.

“We shouldn’t be thinking about separate needs and separate solutions. We should be thinking about one solution,” said the Grade 6 student.

“We don’t just need another building, we need a centre that truly grows. We need a centre that helps us grow.”

Currently, there are concepts for a sports complex next to the college, a new museum and art gallery, recreational facilities at Kin Race Track and the Kokanee Swim Club — which Freeman belongs to — has suggested a new 50-metre pool.

“I think we could combine many of the arts and culture facilities we need with the sports centre,” said Freeman.

“We could make use of wall space for displaying art. We could use auditoriums for having musical recitals to support the music school.”

In terms of aquatics, Freeman envisions a facility with space for the public and the swim club.

“A water park with fun slides and a wave pool would attract so many people from our regional community who would prefer not to drive all of the way to the H20 (centre in Kelowna),” she said.

By pursuing a common facility for all needs, Freeman says it would be cost effective.

“Our whole town needs to find ways to earn money and improve our facilities,” she said.

“We could make a place that everyone would want to come to and that would get our community to come together in a healthy way.”

RDNO members were impressed with Freeman’s presentation.

“She’s thought a level beyond what we’ve thought,” said Patrick Nicol, RDNO chairperson.

“She’s saying we have to look at the whole community.”

Director Juliette Cunningham was moved by Freeman’s passion.

“It’s so inspiring. I agree with so many of her principles,” said Cunningham.

“We need people like her to talk to us and remind us that we can do better.”

Director Mike Macnabb believes people like Freeman should be involved when planning facilities.

“We do have to think long-term and think about facilities,” he said.