EDITORIAL: Officials take charge on culture

Art gallery and museum reminded that responsibility for expanded facilities and how to fund them rests with elected officials and taxpayers

Leadership has been taken on the cultural front.

Both the Vernon Public Art Gallery and the Greater Vernon Museum were reminded Monday that any responsibility for expanded facilities and how to fund them rests with the elected officials and ultimately local taxpayers.

“How this process moves forward is totally in our control,” said Rob Sawatzky, Vernon mayor.

“It’s our job. We take final responsibility on what goes to the public.”

It’s not enough to say that both organizations have worked hard putting plans together and they simply be allowed to go to referendum. The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, which oversees culture, must determine if the scope of the plans will actually meet the long-term community needs and if they include  sound financial reasoning, including operational costs.

It is also natural for the City of Vernon to have a say on whether there should be two separate facilities or one as culture can be a strong anchor in revitalization of the downtown core. How the gallery and museum link with other uses, such as parks and residential, must be closely considered.

Obviously standards at the existing museum and gallery are below standard, and members of both groups may consider new structures a priority. But when going to the public for support — particularly for possibly $17.5 million — all plans must be thoroughly examined.

And once again, that responsibility falls on the politicians because if the referendum succeeds, they have to ensure the project comes in on budget. If the vote fails, they are the ones wearing egg on their faces.