Posted by Colin Heggie on Oct 27, 2020
Bev Rundell introduced our City of Vernon Director of Recreation, Doug Ross, a 37-year City employee, looking forward to his retirement, perhaps next year.  Doug was following up on a previous presentation, with Covid & project planning updates.  Recreation facilities closed in March of this year, due to Covid-19.  Over 100 employees were laid off.  Previously, only the Acquatic Centre closed annually for two or three weeks for maintenance & cleaning.  This long unplanned closure has been used for deep cleaning, painting & more complicated repairs of all facilities.  All facilities have now partially re-opened, with far fewer users.  Each user group, ie. swimmers, ringette, hockey, etc., must follow a myriad of rules set by various levels of government, health authorities, sports organizations, etc.  The City, as a facility operator, must be familiar with everyone’s rules – a full-time job for one or more employees!  Hopes for a "new normal" are anticipated for Fall 2021.  Doug also talked about planning underway for our “Active Living Centre,” which will include a 50m pool, leisure pool, double gymnasium, fitness centre & a walking/running track, occupying about 8 acres of the 38 acre former Kin Race Track site.  It’s projected to cost about $90m.  The agreement the City has with Coldstream & Electoral Areas B & C, calls for 100% buy-in on major facility decisions, so there’s a lot to negotiate.  The feasibility study recommended a “phased” build, however Vernon City Council voted in favour of a full buildout, expressing concern that second or third phases would be at risk of not being undertaken.  At this time, the City's partners have expressed they don’t want to proceed with discussions on the ALC project until construction of the “Cultural Centre” (museum, art gallery, etc.), is underway.  Financing of the $40m budget for that project is a "work in progress."