Arena referendum is premature

The wrong location is proposed and the projected costs for developing the location have not been adequately researched

The Civic Arena replacement feasibility report acknowledges that Kal Tire Place currently has a parking problem, stating there is a deficiency of more than 80 parking spaces and the construction of a new adjoining arena to the north would create a need for another 100 spaces.

It is obvious that the parking problem will be aggravated by a twinning to the north. The report proposes to replace the existing landscaping with paved parking, creating parking along 43rd Avenue and by facility programming or allotting times for use between the two facilities.

As I understand this idea, one facility will not be scheduled for use if the other has a large event scheduled. Is this workable?

Planning for an adjoining facility to the west is the better choice. The existing parking can be saved. There will be no loss of the existing landscaping. Additional parking is possible from a utilization of a portion of Kin Park. The additional parking would address the present parking deficiency at Kal Tire Place and the requirement for additional parking to service a new facility. No land acquisition is required. Kin Park is already owned by the City of Vernon thanks to a donation by the Kinsmen Club in the 1960s.

The report advocates against the western alternative, citing unresolved challenges and the short time frame that the province has allowed for holding a referendum. Yes, there is an unresolved challenge arising from the city’s and regional district’s pathetic handling of the court challenge by the Okanagan Equestrian Society relating to Kin Park. The court case was adjourned several times with the last adjournment being for an indefinite period of time. Why were these adjournments agreed to by our local government officials when this delay in resolving the issues have prejudiced recreational planning in our area, including the use of Kin Park?

As to the timing issue for holding a referendum, why not ask the provincial government for an extension or make a new referendum application? Eric Foster, our local MLA, has been very successful in gaining benefits for the North Okanagan. As a strong supporter of our area, he would give us an excellent chance for succeeding. We are being hurried into a vote by a local government that has dropped the ball. Does this make any sense?

The feasibility report states that an access road to Old Kamloops Road will be required if a twinning facility is constructed to the west of Kal Tire Place with an additional cost. Surely an access road would also be required if a twinning facility is developed to the north and would not the cost be greater because the road would cover a greater distance? The report describes additional parking being created along 43rd Avenue to address the problem of lost parking spaces from a twinning to the north. I have not, however, been able to find any cost estimate in the report for this. Its estimate of site preparation costs appears to be flawed and is predicated upon a study that has not included any geotechnical investigation. A geotechnical investigation is necessary especially for the area in question where there is a high water table issue. What will be the cost of such an investigation? What will be the cost of addressing high water table issues if construction is undertaken? We don’t know.

There are other questions that come to mind such as how are operating costs to be apportioned between the city and the regional district and for what period of time? What planning, if any, has taken place for the Civic Arena property if the structure is removed? What are the city’s plans for Kin Park? What an eyesore it has become from neglect and lack of use. Is the city mindful of the commitment it made to the Kinsmen Club? I am a life member of the Kinsmen and I seethe when I am confronted with having to view this neglect every time I pass by.

The Nov. 28 referendum is premature and unfortunate.

The wrong location is proposed and the projected costs for developing the location have not been adequately researched. Our local government is attempting to deflect this issue from our consideration by actively promoting the inadequacies of our Civic Arena in the news media and ignoring the merits of twinning to the west compared to the northern alternative being proposed.

I will be voting no Nov. 28.

 

Brian Willows, Vernon

 

 

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