The Regional District of North Okanagan has issued an update on the next steps for a proposed Greater Vernon Cultural Centre.
In a two page news release, RDNO staff says with the referendum approved last month, the district is now focused on securing the infrastructure grant funding that was outlined in the project funding model.
As first reported by Beach Radio last week, the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee will be considering a staff recommendation Thursday to apply for a $12.8 million grant to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program for the project.
Community Services Manager Tannis Nelson says once the required funding is secured for the construction costs, estimated at $40 million, a detailed design process can begin with additional community engagement being one of the first steps.
“We know the size and infrastructure needs of the Cultural Centre, but we will be reaching out to the community for more input and participation as we start on the next phase of design. With this additional information we can finalize the construction and operational details, and ensure that we create the Cultural Centre that the community voted for.”
RDNO also released details of its public engagement prior to the Oct 20th referendum.
“We believe it is important to provide complete and accurate information to the public, so a great deal of effort was put into sharing facts about the project and explaining the funding model for the construction of the Cultural Centre,” says Tannis Nelson, Community Services Manager, RDNO. “We recognized that people would want to understand how this project would directly affect them, so we explained that the average cost increase per household would be $48 per year. We also wanted to show that, while the RDNO was proposing to take on new debt they were also paying off some existing debt, which would result in a concurrent reduction on the tax bills of Greater
Vernon households. It’s important that voters have confidence that debt is being managed responsibly.”
Nelson says the objective of the referendum information campaign was to provide the project information necessary to allow eligible voters to make an informed decision,
as well as to provide information on when and where to vote.
“Beginning with an initial kick-off event for the information campaign on August 28, 2018, the RDNO used a variety of avenues to bring information about the project to the community. The information was provided through a combination of radio and newspaper ads, information tables, open houses, print material, and a dedicated webpage that included background information on the project, a fact sheet, and a frequently asked questions document. The webpage received 2,326 visits between August 28 and October 20.”
The RDNO gave over a dozen presentations, which delivered the information to more than 800 people in-person, and ran over 30 information tables at various events and locations, exposing thousands of Greater Vernon voters to the opportunity to ask questions and get more information directly from the RDNO.
RDNO also sent out an informational brochure to households that explained the funding model for the project and impact on taxes, the functions of the proposed Cultural Centre, and encouraged people to become informed on the project before they headed to the polls.