The first and last civic election ballot I cast was a vote for Sean Harvey. We had such a huge opportunity to move forward as a community with Mr. Harvey and while I wasn’t here to see the changes happen, I could believe my eyes the first time I came back to visit.
The 25th Avenue upgrade, the Performing Arts Centre, the multiplex, getting rid of the horrendous odour of the sewage plant and the entire Anderson business district, it was amazing. I thought from then on, if I ever had the opportunity to come back and raise my kids in Vernon, I would in a heartbeat.
That opportunity finally came this year. But the Vernon I came back to was far from the Vernon I visited in 2006/7. I understand I may be ignorant of a lot of issues having only been back three months, but what I’ve seen is Vernon going backwards, not continuing forward. There are so many perplexing decisions that have been made. I’m wondering who is approving them and who is accountable for them?
Our city’s greatest concern should be the number of vacant retail and industrial spaces in this city. It occurs to me that industry in this city (which has never been great) looks like it’s giving up completely. How is it possible to have so much prime retail space vacant? Who decided to close two great locations for tourist booths at each end of town and put them off the highway in a trailer-looking building?
What’s the deal with Kin Beach? It looks horrible with those concrete barriers. Giving into the band’s concerns is one thing but can we not find the money to at least cut down the weeds? What about the other lots further down? When are they to be developed into something? Why does a city this size need a second track and field space?
What is being done to promote business here? I know Sean Harvey was no angel but his direction made this city 10 times more livable for a young family. It occurs to me that leaders since have done everything they can to turn Vernon back to the way it was in 1994.
I write this to provide a discussion among your friends and family. Is this shrinking economy and vacant buildings really what the residents of Vernon want? We have an upcoming election that quite frankly terrifies me. I know the economics of a city are complex. In leadership, it’s obvious tough decisions have to be made and its easy for me, the new/old, resident to question them, but aren’t they supposed to be made with common sense in the best interests of the people?
Vernon needs a true leader with vision for the future. Vision to grow the city and provide opportunities for my children that I had to leave for. Someone to carry the momentum — not do everything they can to stall it. I’ve yet to see a candidate that remotely fits this.
We are five years past the downturn in the economy and it looks like Vernon is still well in the grips of it. I for one will continue my journey to understand what is going on here in order to help do something about it. I do not want to leave Vernon again.