Recreation services director Doug Ross gives guests at a pop-up information booth the facts about Vernon’s proposed Active Living Centre prior to the referendum. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Recreation services director Doug Ross gives guests at a pop-up information booth the facts about Vernon’s proposed Active Living Centre prior to the referendum. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

UPDATE: Vernon affords city new active living centre, for 2026

Referendum passes for $121 M facility borrowing, total number in favour underreported by 100 votes

A majority of Vernon residents are prepared to pay for a new active living centre.

The referendum for borrowing up to $121 million over 30 years for earned 5,121 votes in favour, compared to 3,282 no votes in the 2022 general election.

That means that the City of Vernon can go ahead with the borrowing bylaw for funds to begin the process of the new facility, to be constructed at the former Kin Racetrack land.

“This is a significant project for our community,” said Doug Ross, recreation services director. “The results of the referendum now allow us to continue the process for the development of these facilities that were first identified as being needed by citizens in the 2018 Greater Vernon Recreation Master Plan.”

The development process for the Active Living Centre is expected to take up to four years to complete, with an anticipated facility opening date in the fall of 2026. The propsed development includes a request for proposals process to begin this fall, followed by final planning and design phase in the spring of 2023 and construction beginning in spring/summer 2024.

The final design phase is expected to take a full year to complete and will include additional public engagement to help determine design elements such as aquatic play features.

“As we discussed during the referendum information campaign, play features will primarily be portable in order to create versatility within the new aquatic centre,” said Ross. “They could include things such as inflatable play features, a NinjaCross course that can be lowered from the ceiling, or a sonic wave ball to create wave action. But of course, we’ll also seek input on more permanent play elements such as slides, sprayers, bubblers, and a rock climbing wall to ensure the space is fun for kids of all ages and abilities.

“The Active Living Centre will be designed to serve a growing community with a diverse set of sport and recreational needs, while also having the opportunity to attract new residents and visitors. The design phase will include a strong focus on inclusivity, accessibility, and creating a fun and family friendly environment. Now that we have approval from citizens to move forward with the project, we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get going.

The Active Living Centre, a key part of Vernon city council’s 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, will be constructed at 3501 43rd Ave., in the heart of the newly designated Kin Race Track Athletic Park near Kal Tire Place.

To learn more, follow progress on the development or to participate in future public engagement opportunities, visit engagevernon.ca/activelivingcentre.

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