Vernon’s mayor is never afraid to speak his mind and he’s taken to social media over the Nov. 28 arena referendum.
On his personal Facebook page, Akbal Mund provides what he calls the facts on twinning Kal Tire Place.
“The current onsite parking on the Kal Tire site is 680 stalls. If the referendum passes and the arena is built, there will be 679 stalls. Fact. Take a look at the plans for those who do not believe. Let’s compare this to Sandman Centre in Kamloops where the Blazers play hockey in the WHL. They have less then 250 onsite parking spaces for a 5,400-seat arena. Fact,” he wrote.
“Where does everyone park you may ask? All over the available spaces in the park, downtown, many 10 blocks away and they walk. Kal Tire place has just over 3,000 seats. Let’s look at Kelowna. Same situation, not enough onsite parking. Where do people park? At the parkade several blocks away. Funny thing, in Vernon, the parking is free. Both Kamloops and Kelowna charge for parking ($5 each). Now in no way am I saying that that we charge for parking but delivering you facts. Why do people here in Vernon think we need more parking for two arenas that will have a total capacity of less than 3,500 seats? Park at the performing arts centre or curling rink and walk the three blocks. Is it really that tough to do? People seem to do it in Kamloops, Kelowna, Vancouver, Seattle, and everywhere else so I think people who are saying there is no parking need to look at the facts.”
Beyond parking, Mund goes on to tackle the condition of Civic Arena.
“It is a 78-year-old building, fact. The brine system for the ice has aged beyond repair. Some have suggested let’s keep fixing it until it really dies off and we can’t use it. Well, that could cost more than $10 million in just the first 10 years to keep it running. Why would anyone spend that much money to keep something running instead of buying something new? What do you do if eventually it does stop functioning? We then will have to build a new one, but what would the cost be then, $25 million? Annual operating costs will decrease as it is very expensive to run two stand-alone arenas. We will save about $150,000 a year. Fact,” he wrote. “This new arena can be used for more sports groups than anyone has thought of — hockey, ringette, figure skating, speed skating, lacrosse, ball hockey, pickleball, judo, boxing, archery, badminton, the list could go on. Any sport that wants to hold a tournament could do so.”
Mund continues that Kamloops branded itself as the tournament capital 30 years ago and it’s taken time to achieve that goal.
“All the businesses in Kamloops know about the economic impact this has brought to Kamloops. Hotels, restaurants, the malls, all visited by out of town groups. Kin Race Track is a complicated issue, one which will come to an end one day. If the city and the (Okanagan equestrian) society reach an agreement one day, yes this could become our McArthur Island Park, with many facilities in one area for all to enjoy.”
“Some are worried about their taxes going up. One fact you all need to know is $22 million is coming off the books in 2020, meaning the money that was borrowed to build the performing arts centre and Kal Tire Place come to a close.”
Mund closes his post by stating that his family does not play hockey.
“My family will be voting yes. We understand why we support this, growth within our community and facilities our grandkids will use.”
Mund didn’t hold back with his online comments and it will be interesting to see if he has a true sense of public sentiment or if he was completely off mark.