BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Passing the puck

Plans shelved for referendum for replacement ice due to timeline, but there's more to it

The Regional District of North Okanagan announced Monday that plans are being shelved for a Nov. 15 referendum to borrow $13 million for a replacement ice sheet for Civic Arena.

The reason given in a press release was, “At the present time, RDNO has not received the required approval from the inspector of municipalities needed to move the service establishment and loan authorization bylaws to referendum for the expansion of the Vernon and district multi-use facility.”

If you read between the lines, the provincial government’s bureaucracy is slower than molasses in January.

But further investigation provides more insight into the situation.

“The province has raised concern about RDNO having a referendum and borrowing for a capital expansion of a facility owned by the City of Vernon,” said David Sewell, the regional district’s chief administrative officer.

Now for a quick reminder on what’s been happening politically in Greater Vernon over the last few years. All of the jurisdictions decided to restructure recreational services to apparently improve oversight and create efficiencies. This led to RDNO handing over legal title of its facilities, including Kal Tire Place, to the City of Vernon. The city would operate the facilities and Coldstream and the electoral areas would provide funding to ensure access for their residents.

At the same time, the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee investigated the longevity of the aging Civic Arena and decided the preferred route would be constructing a new ice sheet at the north end of Kal Tire Place. Hockey users and residents were consulted and the process towards a Nov. 15 referendum began.

Now flash forward to Monday’s announcement that there won’t be a referendum this fall. What this reveals is the Ministry of Community Development questions how the regional district can borrow money for an asset it does not own. It would be similar to me asking the bank for cash so I can use my neighbour’s pool.

One has to wonder about the process that was followed.

Prior to getting minor hockey’s hopes up about a new ice sheet, did RDNO extensively consult with the ministry about the proposed borrowing bylaw and any potential complications? If it did, was there any advance warning that borrowing money for a facility no longer owned by the regional district could be problematic?

I’m no expert, but I have a mortgage and it’s obvious that ownership and borrowing are generally linked.

The other question arising out of all of this  is the future of Greater Vernon’s restructured recreational service, which was hammered out after countless hours of meetings and, one would assume, costly legal advice.

If Coldstream and electoral area taxpayers can’t apparently pump money into a new ice sheet, can they assist with upgrades at the Vernon Recreation Complex or any other facility they use that’s owned by Vernon?

RDNO officials have stated options will now be considered and constructing a new ice sheet remains a priority.

We need a process to replace Civic Arena before it fails catastrophically,” said director Rob Sawatzky.

That may be the case, but let’s hope our elected officials have their ducks in a row the next time.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Our History: A royal visit to Vernon

Princess Margaret and Lt.-Gov. Frank Mackenzie Ross took a ride through Vernon… Continue reading

Coldstream officials clear air about pool costs

Municipalities seeks to clarify who pays what to cover additional lifeguarding hours

Big contributions for Vernon’s Schubert Centre

Former member of the centre donated $10,000 while Regency Parkwood donated more than $2,000

Old Friends return to Okanagan Symphony stage

OSO marks 60th anniversary with Masterworks series in Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon

Coldstream school celebrates plastic-free Valentine’s Day

Grade 5 students challenge fellow learners throughout district to show Mother Earth some love

Laughing ladies and country artists sell out Vernon venue

Alan Doyle and I Am Woman, Hear Me Laff! back to back sold out

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Couple in crash on Highway 1 mistake Shuswap for Lower Mainland

Chase RCMP report Mercedes Benz collides with transport truck

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Revelstoke mother and daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Ministry grants SD67 extension to balance books, submit amended budget

The board of trustees voted Monday to acquire outside help to deal with budget concerns

Most Read