Progress has been made on a land sale agreement that will set the stage for a proposed cultural centre in downtown Vernon.
During its meeting Monday, Sept. 14, city council directed administration to complete the sale of land at 2910 32nd Avenue – known as the Vernon Block – to the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO). The sale paves the way for the facility’s construction on what is currently a parking lot.
Following Monday’s regular open meeting, council returned to an in-camera meeting and passed a resolution to declassify the land sale agreement.
“A lot of good work has gone into the Cultural Centre project recently,” Mayor Victor Cumming said. “In the last few months, elected officials and staff from the City of Vernon, the District of Coldstream, and Electoral Areas B and C have had a series of productive meetings to move the project forward. Finalizing the land sale agreement is a critical step in seeing this regional facility come to life and we are pleased to finally be at this stage of the process.”
Council directed staff to sell and transfer up to one half of the city-owned Vernon Block to the RDNO at $75 per square foot. The land is approximately 33,000 square-feet, putting the total value of the sale at $2,475,000.
The price was set at fair market value by an independent, third-party appraisal, the city said.
The Vernon, Coldstream, and Areas B and C are funding partners through the RDNO, and each pays a proportionate amount of costs associated with regional services.
“What’s important for our residents to understand is that the City of Vernon has already purchased the Vernon Block land and has invested a considerable amount of time and funding to prepare the site for future development, such as off-site works,” Cumming said.
“We are not asking Vernon taxpayers to purchase the land a second time. Rather, our partners in Coldstream and Areas B and C will need to pay their portion of the land cost (31.4 per cent).”
In a 2018 referendum, Greater Vernon taxpayers approved borrowing up to $25 million for the multi-purpose cultural centre that is expected to cost $40 million in total.
In August, council unanimously voted to direct staff to negotiate the conditions of the sale. Monday’s decision comes ahead of an Oct. 1 federal grant deadline to further support the facility’s construction.