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New Vernon pool, recreation facility may require ‘serious’ tax hike

A conceptual design for a proposed new recreation facility in Vernon.
A conceptual design for a proposed new recreation facility in Vernon. City of Vernon

This week, the City of Vernon took another step towards building a new public pool and recreation facility.

If it proceeds, the project is expected to require major borrowing.

On Monday, city council gave its support for a general plan for the project, which also had public support during consultations.

That broad-strokes plan would see local governments build what they are calling an “Active Living Centre” on the site of the former Kin Race Track.

The facility would include a 50-metre pool, leisure pool, gym, fitness centre and walking track.

READ MORE: City of Vernon gives out 102 layoff notices due to recreation facilities closure

“There is clear community support to move beyond our very aged facilities in terms of the aquatic side,” Vernon mayor Victor Cumming said.

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The rough cost estimate for the project is $83 million. The mayor said none of the cost would be paid for through reserve funds.

If the facility is built all at once and completely paid for through borrowing, the city says the building and operations would cost the average household an extra $167 in taxes annually for 20 years.

READ MORE: Cutbacks at Vernon pool causes political squabble over funding

However, that tax hike could be reduced if the city is able to secure grant or sponsorship funding, or if the project is built in phases.

For example, just building a new 50-metre pool as phase one of the project is estimated to cost $49 million.

Cumming acknowledged the project could be a “serious request on the taxes,” but said that’s why any borrowing is expected to go to a referendum, so voters can weigh in if they are serious about paying for it.

A conceptual design for the proposed new recreation facility in Vernon, B.C.
A conceptual design for the proposed new recreation facility in Vernon, B.C. City of Vernon

The next step is for the proposal to be presented to the District of Coldstream and two neighbouring electoral areas, who typically coordinate with the City of Vernon on recreation services.

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If all parties approve of the project in principal, planning for a referendum on the project is expected to move ahead.

The City of Vernon said it is at least four or five years from opening a new recreation center if the project moves ahead.