Vernon waives $10,000 in fees for Okanagan Military Tattoo despite incoming rental policy

Tattoo gets a break

A divided Vernon city council voted to approve an in-kind donation for the annual Okanagan Military Tattoo event in 2024 – going against the recommendation of city staff.

Organizers of the military-themed music and parade event sought just over $10,000 in fees waived and in-kind support.

The event is eligible for Heritage Canada funding, but that’s dependent on local government support.

Coun. Kelly Fehr argued against the request because the society did not actually apply for a grant and has also not made its budget available.

He said the city “can’t arbitrarily allow funding.”

The councillor’s comments echoed Vernon staff’s report, which said: “Without the guidance of a clear process, it is important to be consistent and predictable with all user groups.”

The report noted “other user groups of Kal Tire Place have not received this type of subsidized support and have paid the appropriate fees associated with their rental in 2023.”

Staff argued the city’s recent fee assessment, which calls for a 5% fee increase starting in the new year, speaks to the necessity of a granting process for groups to apply for a break on fees.

However, the process isn’t yet in place.

Coun. Teresa Durning worried the organization wasn’t properly consulted on the change.

“I think we have not communicated with them properly in terms of the process,” she said.

Coun. Kari Gares agreed, arguing with no policy in place, it’s unfair to deny an organization days before their grant application is due.

Council agreed to waive $5,000 in fees for meeting rooms at Kal Tire Place and $5,000 on equipment rental and forklift operator costs.

Next year’s tattoo is set to happen in May, instead of July.

The event includes about 400 performers and more than 125 volunteers.

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