One of Vernon’s larger business groups is urging people to vote Yes in the Oct. 20th referendum for a new cultural centre.
Greater Vernon voters are being asked to support borrowing 25 million dollars for the facility which would be built on the former Coldstream Hotel Site downtown.
Susan Lehman, executive director of the Downtown Vernon Association, says a majority of their 550 members support the project.
“There are a number of good things being done by the referendum group, lots of good information. I think they’ve been able to overcome objections that may be around parking, operating costs, those kind of things, to the satisfaction of our membership,” Lehman tells Beach Radio News
Lehman says losing the parking on the proposed site was a concern to some, but she says the city has been working to add other parking spaces.
“It was was definitely part of the discussion when we spoke with businesses and property owners, but that particular location was always earmarked for further development, so if it’s not a cultural centre, it will be something that will be built there.”
Lehman says the new facility will draw people into the downtown which will support their merchants.
“A lot of research has been done about the economics of adding these types of facilities. The terms I’ve heard is seven to one return when it comes to direct economic impact, so that’s great. That means our restaurants are full in the evenings and on the weekends, and those are typically the hours people will use those facilities,” adds Lehman.”
Lehman says it will also bring in more tourists, help with civic pride, and showcase artists in the area.
The centre will accommodate as many uses as possible, hosting the museum and art gallery as well as performance space providing access to exhibitions, programs, and presentations.
“Instead of travelling to another Okanagan city for culture or entertainment, residents will keep their dollars here in Vernon which will re-circulate in the economy, the downtown core will directly benefit not only economically but also because these types of facilities preserve heritage, create a distinct culture, and generate opportunities for innovation,” says Lehman.
Photo: Proposed site for cultural centre is currently an city-owned parking lot on 3st Avenue and 29th Street