Petition urges Coldstream to rejoin talks over funding of Vernon Active Living Centre

Petition: reconsider ALC

A petition has been launched urging the District of Coldstream to go back to the table with Vernon over funding of the city's new Active Living Centre.

The change.org petition calls on Coldstream to to reconsider participation in the multimillion-dollar project.

Petition creator Laurel Swan says: "Residents of Coldstream are deeply concerned about the decision ... to decline participation in the Active Living Centre."

Swan says the move has left Coldstream residents "feeling unheard and disregarded. We believe this choice negatively impacts us all by imposing a significant cost barrier on our recreational activities."

The City of Vernon is implementing two-tiered recreation fees that would charge non-residents more after talks broke down with Coldstream and RDNO Areas B and C over cost sharing.

The city has said surrounding jurisdictions will have the option to enter into fee-for-service agreements if they wish.

But, Swan says the increased fees for Coldstream residents for such things as hockey, skating and other rec programs "are substantial per person, and even more so per family."

"Our community's physical health and well being should not be compromised due to financial constraints."

Swan says Greater Vernon is "in desperate need of a new facility. The community has grown, and trying to get into programs often leads to frustration amongst those looking to stay active.

"Often programs like swim lessons are fully booked within minutes of becoming available, and children are put on wait lists that rarely lead to entry.

"If Coldstream does not participate in the Active Living Centre, the City of Vernon has said it will open programs to Vernon residents only for two weeks and then neighbouring communities after, leaving us in a position to be left out of all programs if demand is high."

Launched on Monday, the petition so far has 131 signatures.

"I want our family and my children to be able to access recreational facilities in our community. If this goes through, we will never see another swimming lesson again because they will be full every time before Coldstream has the ability to register," commented on the petition.

Coldstream and RDNO directors have expressed their displeasure with the two-tiered arrangement.

"Coldstream and Areas B and C also wish to be clear that they have historically made, and continue to make, significant investments into Greater Vernon Recreation assets, including continuing to pay debt servicing costs on the Kal Tire Place expansion in the amount of $139,751 in 2023," they said in a joint press release last month.

They proposed a one-time 11% increase in the annual grant amount from $1,280,644 in 2023 to $1,421,515 in 2024, and Consumer Price Index protection in 2025-2026.

"We strongly feel we have made a compelling offer – significantly more than was provided in 2023, significantly more than CPI and significantly more than will be achievable through a two-tiered fee structure."

The new recreation centre is expected to open in the fall of 2026. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2024.

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