EDITORIAL: Public must be brought on board

Local politicians were slapping themselves on the back after the Agricultural Land Commission approved the concept of a sports complex

Greater Vernon politicians were slapping themselves on the back Wednesday after the Agricultural Land Commission approved the concept of a sports complex next to Okanagan College.

However, navigating provincial bureaucracy is minor compared to the challenge politicians will face when they try to convince residents to commit their hard-earned tax dollars to construct the $7.8 million facility.

It won’t be an easy pitch given that many people have lost their jobs or have seen wages frozen during these challenging times, while utility costs, including locally controlled water rates, have climbed.

For a prospective referendum to be successful, extensive planning will have to go into promoting the need for a regulation-size running track, a lighted artificial playing field and support buildings.

That will mean not only bringing together sports user groups, but those in the broader community who  will benefit, including cardiac patients at the hospital and the hotels, restaurants and merchants who will experience an expanded customer base through tournaments.

Sports facilities will also retain and attract students to the local college campus and that is beneficial to the entire region.

Some officials would like a referendum in the spring, but a date shouldn’t even be considered until a firm process is established to increase awareness among residents and bring them on board.

A complex doesn’t have to be constructed for three years under ALC rules so there is time to get things right.

—The Morning Star