Before we sign our tax dollars away in a referendum, we need to look at ways to maximize the benefits to the health and economy of our community.
Let’s take the cost of what is on the table presently — $8.5 million for sports facility at Okanagan College, $7 million for the art gallery and $10 million for the museum. That’s a total of $25.5 million.
Alternatively, we can acquire lands with sensitive ecosystems and habitats such as the area’s dwindling grasslands and corridors along our urban creeks and wetlands.
As for sports facilities, we don’t need to go overboard. A simple quarter-mile track in a central location, like VSS, would be fine for now.
Sierra Club Okanagan is working on preservation of large tracks of grassland ecosystems and related wildlife habitats and restoration of watersheds in the area and is putting together proposals for the acquisition of two properties that are presently for sale. One is 2,100 acres of grassland in the Coldstream Valley and the other is 680 acres in the Commonage.
The asking price for both these properties adds up to $10 million. So adding the reduced cost of combining the art gallery and museum of $15 million and a $2 million track at VSS, we would be spending $27 million.
Acquiring these properties will be a start to the plans in the OCP of both Vernon and RDNO to restore and protect as much of the endangered ecosystems and habitats as possible.
If we start thinking along these lines with government spending, we will have plenty of money to reach our goals of healthy communities and a healthy environment.