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Vernon  

Amphitheatre proposed

An outdoor amphitheatre with a view of Kalamalka Lake is being proposed for Okanagan College's Vernon campus.

The Okanagan Summer Festival Society is behind the plan to host symphony orchestras and dance companies at the open-air location.

While no firm projections have been made, planners estimate the site would cost of five to $10 million to develop and accommodate up to 5,500 people.

The proposal was presented Thursday to the Greater Vernon Advisory Council (GVAC).

“We see the opportunity to develop a significant addition to the cultural infrastructure of our valley at a site that has incredible views and that would showcase not just world-class performers, but also world-class scenery,” explained Diane Bond, the society’s managing director.

A number of places around the Okanagan had been viewed, but Bond said the Kal Lake site was “the best site in the Valley.”

“We were looking for beauty, appropriate topography and accessibility,” Bond said.

The covered amphitheatre would take advantage of campus topography, notably a coulee, to allow for a natural slope.

The non-profit society has signed a memorandum of understanding with the college’s board of governors that authorizes it to continue work on developing the idea.

“We expect all due diligence and funding arrangements would be in place before any final agreement is signed by the College,” explained Jane Lister, dean of the Vernon campus. “Next steps in the process include consultation with our neighbours, the municipality, First Nations, and completion of any engineering or environmental studies that might be required.”

Bond reassured GVAC the society would not make a major request for funding of the project, but would instead look for federal and provincial funding as well as private sector donors.

A number of committee members welcomed the proposal although some had concerns about noise.

“This is not specifically rural and lakes tend to bounce sound,” said Coldstream councillor Doug Dirk. “If there are conflicts, it'll be with the residents within the sound line.”

Allan Coyle, the college's director of public affairs, assured politicians the college would remain a good neighbour, explaining the design allows for the sound to be projected towards the highway, not the lake. “There would also be acoustic tests.”

Planned public consultations would also allow for neighbours to weigh in on the project. “We'll get them to poke and prod at it, ask questions,” said Coyle.

“I wouldn't anticipate a problem with David Foster or Andrea Bocelli,” joked Dirk.

“AC/DC maybe not so much,” added Bob Fleming, Electoral Area 'D' director.

Coyle said the society was anticipating work to begin in 2017, depending on funding.

Those interested in looking at the plans are invited to an open house at the Vernon campus on Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. in the Kal View Cafe where an architect’s initial concept plan will be available for viewing.

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