Taking care of the Civic Arena

Resident has some questions leading up to the arena referendum

Like many taxpayers, I’ve been following the debate about replacing Civic Arena quite closely.

I was particularly taken by a comment attributed to a young boy whose minor hockey coach had written a letter, It’s time to replace Civic, “Why don’t they take care of this place, coach?”

That’s an excellent question and one I would like to know the answer to as well.

It is especially relevant given that we have been told that even if the referendum passes, it will be at least three years before Kal Tire Place can be twinned. That means Civic needs to last until the beginning of 2019 or the 40 per cent of the local ice time that it  provides will be lost. Thank goodness our school trustees are much more conscientious about maintaining older public assets than is Vernon council. Much has been made of the fact that Civic is 78-years-old and no longer worth maintaining. Yet nothing has been said about Ecole Bearisto which is 107-years-old. One remains in good repair, the other has been allowed to deteriorate. Why?

The thing I like best about Civic is that it is paid for. Kal Tire Place will not be paid for until 2020, when the 20-year debenture used to fund it will be fully paid off. Does that mean if we eke out Civic until 2020 (that’s just a year or two  more than it has to last anyway), we could simply roll over the Kal Tire debt payment and get a new ice sheet for no more than we are already paying?

If so, that makes a lot of sense to me.

Likewise, the performing arts centre’s 20-year funding debenture will be paid off in 2020.

Could it not also be rolled over and the money used to fund upgraded museum/art gallery facilities at no cost to us taxpayers beyond what we are already paying? Surely, once a city or regional district pays off a debt, it then has extra money to finance something else without adding to the existing tax burden, does it not? If not, why not?

Jim Bodkin

Vernon