The adage, “If you haven’t got time to do it right, when will you find the time (and money) to do it over?” is a good mantra for all but especially for our elected and paid public service with regards to on-going, unresolved civic issues such as the Kin Race track, civic buildings maintenance, the art gallery, affordable housing, the master water plan, entry signs, implementing the OCP in Vernon and Coldstream and other issues consistently deferred or revisited costing time and taxpayer money which could better be spent elsewhere for infrastructure or smart growth enhancements.
Though all involved may be well intentioned, there is more morass than momentum.
With reviews indicating our governance and staffing levels exceed what is required for our area population, we can well ask if we are getting good returns on these investments.
Mayor Mund invites citizen contributions over complaints though he knows citizens are the lifeblood of our community, actively engaged contributing to and volunteering for service clubs, health, recreation, arts, agriculture, native and non-profit boards to name a few with the goal of keeping Greater Vernon great.
Volunteers created, and still operate, the largest annual tourist and economic events such as Vernon Winter Carnival, Creative Chaos, Funtastic and artisan and farmers markets.
In turn, we have a right to expect our paid professionals on staff to collaborate and initiate effective economic plans to attract investment, tourism, well paid jobs, an educated and skilled workforce, and young families to keep our area schools open.
Citizens also contribute time and talents to official community plans for Vernon and Coldstream highlighting priorities such as more parks, increased transit and trails (hike and bike), and a commercial/ residential core density. Citizens did not ask for building demolition only to be replaced with a wasteland of paved parking lots but did ask for a cultural centre which if built with galleries, studios and shops on the main level with rentable accommodation above could be self sustaining while generating local/ tourist activity and revenue.
Literally thousands upon thousands of area residents are engaged in the arts as teachers, participants or audience.
It is my hope they mobilize their supporters and create public awareness leading to OCP/council/Regional District of North Okanagan action on the arts front.
What makes a community attractive, besides natural assets, are the created amenities …physical, social and cultural.
Invest in enhancing those quality of life intangibles and studies show you attract tangible investment by visitors, new residents and businesses.
Even without signage we already know Greater Vernon is a four season’s sensation.
Yet despite increased population and larger tax revenues, very few OCP goals have yet to be funded or achieved in Vernon, and especially Coldstream, to improve core amenities.
If you think too little is being done, speak up to those who are entrusted with the viability and sustainability of Greater Vernon and whom are paid to represent your interests.
Our local governments can reduce wasteful spending, amalgamate overlapping functions, incorporate sustainable practices and outcomes, access more grants (becoming available) over taxes for future revitalization and infrastructure, and inspire all citizens by their good example with innovative, decisive action.
Best practices lead to best outcomes.
When the buck stops here, creative leadership is poised to make positive change from it.