Community needs new vision

I commend and agree with recent editorials advocating that residents stay involved and contribute to a revitalized community vision.

Re: Time for a New Vision & Residents must remain active: I commend and agree with recent editorials advocating that even after recent elections residents stay involved and contribute to a revitalized community vision.

Our politicians, new or not, can’t do all the work. We’ve had years to conceptualize an OCP and we need to mobilize and realize these proposed creative concepts for core community amenities and enhancements now. We certainly don’t want to delay or experience in years ahead what Yogi Berra quipped as “Deja-vu all over again.”

In Vernon, a good focus to improving the look and inclusive “liveability quotient” amenities of the downtown core would be the Coldstream hotel site and other vacant (eyesore) lots. The City Centre Plan with proposed shops, cultural facilities, affordable housing, greenspace and lively street life potential has finally been adopted. So without letting another decade pass, “Just Do IT.” Along the way feel free to win a few green architecture and xeriscape landscaping awards for structures and surroundings which sustainably combine commercial, community, and cultural amenities.

In terms of any cultural facilities, all taxpayers who care about the bottom line or even those who don’t engage in the arts personally should welcome the arts which have a proven track record of more bang for the buck in terms of investment payback.

According to the Conference Board of Canada “the arts and culture sector contributed $85 billion to GDP while paying $25 billion in taxes which was 3 times more return than the investment. (2008 figures). StatsCan numbers (2006) show that the arts/culture sector had more employees than the forestry, fishing, agriculture, oil, gas and mining sectors combined and twice that of the banking industry.”

Neighbouring communities have made great strides in recognizing the economic and social benefits of the arts. Kelowna recently endorsed a 5 year Arts & Culture plan which contains “10 goals and 63 strategies to enhance their cultural ecosystem.” They have a designated Cultural district and cultural services manager. Forward thinking.

Armstrong unanimously voted to double a recent local arts grant in response to what they heard from the community during the recent election campaign.

In Vernon we have some fine cultural assets in terms of facilities and facilitators which contribute directly and indirectly to our local economy, well being, city character and social capital. If this cultural landscape was missing we would indeed be impoverished (Canadians spent twice as much on live performing arts as sports events in 2008).

Invest in arts/culture if you want green, sustainable jobs attracting further investment, tourism, an educated workforce, quality of life factors and potential future employment for successive generations. Who doesn’t want that?

To nurture this lively community core concept with the right focus and funds I encourage the new council to access all available and relevant federal and provincial improvement grants (such as Armstrong did with UBCM/Healthy Families community planning); make intelligent budget and tax strategies; establish an arts and culture dept.; mobilize Vernon visionaries and volunteers, service clubs and organizations to join with you to work together for the well being of all citizens and the betterment of “Our Town.”

Are we ready to commit to a worthy goal and roll up our sleeves to make a difference?

“What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” (attributed to Goethe)

Becky Strube

Vernon