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Happy with vote outcome

Vernon will be getting a second sheet of ice at Kal Tire Place after Greater Vernon residents gave the project the go-ahead.

In referendum held Saturday, 4,265 people voted in favour of borrowing $13.25 million to add the second ice sheet, while 3,331 were against the idea. There are 47,000 eligible voters in the Greater Vernon area.

The second sheet of ice at the city's multiplex will replace the aged Civic Arena which needs more than $10 million on repairs.

However, the Civic will have to stay in operation for at least three more years while the new arena is built. Officials said the idea is to spend as little as possible to keep the nearly 80-year-old building operational until the new facility is ready to open.

Cameron Grant headed up an advocacy group that was pushing for yes vote leading up the referendum.

His main goal was getting the facts out to the voting public.

“When people had the facts, I knew they would get out there and vote yes,” said Grant, adding he was confident the majority of people wanted the new arena, but was concerned with voter apathy and that supporters might not come out to vote.

Grant said the average home owner would see a tax increase of around $2.40 a month.

“That is not a lot of money for a new arena,” he said, adding it just did not make sense to put millions of dollars in the Civic.

“It's never been kept up. It's not like they are giving up on it now, there was no foresight to put money away and keep it up with the times,” he said. “We need at least four ice surfaces in town and if we need four and the Civic fails we would be down to two.”

Grant said the second ice sheet will not only benefit user groups like hockey, ringette and speed skating, but tax payers in general because the city will not be constantly putting money into an aging building.

Cliff Lannon, with Vernon Ringette said "everyone I talked to ecstatic about the new rink. "There is a lot of issues with the Civic and it could fail. The sooner we get the new one up and running the less chance there is of losing an ice surface. If we went down to two, it would be quite drastic."

“I hope this vote signals a changing attitude in the voters of Vernon,” said Grant. “These types of facilities improve the quality of life for everyone in Vernon and surrounding area. They contribute positively in helping people of all ages keep active and stay active. They also add to the attractiveness of the city and can help bring young families and more business.”

Grant said he hopes people realize this isn't the last referendum either and that the positive vote is an indication people are changing their attitude about needed infrastructure in the city.

“There will be more, and when they come up, remember our old infrastructure and what attitude it took for things like the Civic to fall into disrepair. This wasn't just about an arena, it was also about changing attitudes,” he said. “There are things that are not here or need to be replaced and I hope when other things come up like the art gallery there is a change of attitude to help make our community a little better.”

Truck fire not suspicious

Vernon Fire Rescue were called to a vehicle fire early Sunday morning.

At 4:39 a.m., crews received a call of a truck on fire at 1012 Windsor Place.

Cpt. Reinhard Mann said a Ford F-350 pick up was parked next to a house when it caught fire, however the incident does not seem suspicious.

The fire started to ignite the vinyl siding on the garage, but crews quickly doused the flames, keeping damage to the house minimal.

Mann said the fire was contained to the engine compartment of the truck which he suspects will be a total write off.

“The block heater was plugged in so could be a potential cause, but they will have to check it out more on Monday. It doesn't seem suspicious,” he said, adding the owners were in the process of moving to Alberta and had their belongings in a trailer that was supposed to have been towed by the truck.

Fire officials will be examining the truck Monday for a definitive cause.

Over the summer and early fall, crews were called to a couple of vehicle fires that were deemed suspicious.

Think global, march local

Close to 70 people marched to the steps of the Vernon court house Sunday to raise awareness of climate change and to encourage the nation's leaders to take action.

Carrying signs and banners, participants braved a cold fall afternoon to be part of a global protest on climate change.

“There is a huge amount of people marching in Ottawa right now,” said local co-organizer Mary Stockdale to the cheer of the crowd.

World leaders, including newly election prime minister Justin Trudeau, will be meeting in Paris over the next few weeks to discuss climate change.

Stockdale said the Vernon march was not only to raise awareness, but to encourage the new Liberal government to take action nationally and globally.

“It's not going to be easy to make the necessary changes so let's support out leaders,” Stockdale told the crowd.

Stockdale said Canada needs to get away from its fossil-fuel dependancy by building a green infrastructure that does not rely in fossil fuels, adding the infrastructure that is built today will still be in use 40 years from now.

Stockdale said indigenous rights must be recognized and she praised First Nations people for their efforts to protect the environment.

The government and industry must also invest in clean, low carbon jobs.

Stockdale said the goal is to have industry and nations use 100 pet cent renewable energy by 2050.

According to information handed out at the rally, the worst impacts of climate change can be staved off if 80 per cent of known fossil fuels remain in the ground and emissions are cut by 80-90 per cent over the next 35 years.


Referendum: It's a yes

The yes side has won in a referendum to build a new arena in Vernon.

Preliminary results issued less than two hours after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Saturday showed 4,265 people voted in favour of borrowing $13.25 million to twin Kal Tire Place.

Those against the proposal totalled 3,331, according to chief election officer Paddy Juniper.

The results also show many people in Greater Vernon didn't bother to go to the polls.

Approximately 47,000 people were eligible to vote, said Juniper.

The new ice will replace the old Civic Arena which has a host of problems that Vernon Recreation staff say could lead to failure at any time.

However, the arena must be kept operational for “at least three more years” until a new facility is built, according to Doug Ross, director of recreation services.

The yes forces, led by chiropractor Cameron Grant, made a series of public pleas ahead of the referendum in an effort to get out the vote in favour of a new arena.

Polls open for rink vote

Polling has begun this morning in Vernon’s referendum to decide if the city will borrow $13.25 million for a second sheet of ice at Kal Tire Place.

The polling station at the Vernon Recreation Centre has seen slow traffic so far today, since opening at 8 a.m.

Election officials say about 250 people have voted as of 11:00 a.m. There are 47,000 eligible voters in the Greater Vernon area.

An official at the Recreation Centre said they have seen a high proportion of seniors voting at their location so far.

Residents can vote at five locations, including BX Elementary School, Coldstream Elementary School, Ellison Elementary School, Silver Star Elementary School and the Vernon Recreation Centre. Polls will close at 8 p.m. Saturday evening. 

Tenant given time to go

A City of Vernon tenant on the east side of 29th Street has been given notice to quit the premises.

The Open Door education centre serves adults taking Grade 10 to 12 courses, using computer-managed instruction combined with one-on-one instruction by teachers.

The program is run by School District 22, which has leased the city-owned site at 2901 29th St. for years.

“The city has notified the district that it is demolishing the building next summer,” reads a memo to Vernon's school board from school Supt. Joe Rogers. “Our secretary-treasurer is currently examining all options for relocating the program.”

In 2012, Vernon paid more than $1.1 million for the New Delhi Indian restaurant property at 2905 29th St. The restaurant remained open for a time, although it is now shut. That building and several others are slated for demolition.

Mayor Akbal Mund has said once the space has been cleared, he expects more downtown parking to be put in place to make up for spaces that may be lost if a senior's complex is built on the site of the current Bennett parking lot.

The city has long-term planning to use 29th Street as a corridor connecting Highway 6 with 27th Street.

New Funtastic boss

A new executive director has been hired to run one of the North Okanagan's largest events.

Tony Pallas is taking the helm of the Funtastic Slo-pitch Tournament and Music Festival.

The Lake Country resident is former operations manager of the Vancouver Sun Run, the second largest 10K road race in North America. About 50,000 people take part annually in the event.

Pallas was also involved with the 2010 Olympics and past CFL Grey Cup events, according to information supplied by Funtastic.

Pallas takes up his new position, which has been vacant since early July, on Dec. 1.

Meanwhile, a familiar face has been appointed president of the Funtastic Sports Society.

Diana Williamson, who was secretary of the group, has stepped in as head of the board, replacing lawyer Brett Kirkpatrick.

"I am very happy Brett is staying on the board in a past-president position,” said Williamson. “His experience and knowledge will be very beneficial to not only me, but to the organization as a whole. We have served on the board together for over 10 years, and I respect his input."

Since 1985, the Funtastic Sports Society has given more than $1.5 million to support community sport and recreation initiatives.

Funtastic has stated the event brings $4.2 million into the local economy during the July 1 weekend.

The 32nd annual event will take place June 30 to July 3, 2016.

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