Greater Vernon Cultural Centre - Referendum VOTE

Voting Information

Want to know more about referendum voting eligibility, dates and locations? Visit the elections website of your jurisdiction:

Promote the Vote!

Download the poster for your business or office, or download a web banner to promote the vote on-line.

Watch for the informative Greater Vernon Cultural Centre Referendum -VOTE brochure in your mailbox starting Monday October 15, 2018! Don't want to wait? Read or print the brochure today!

On October 20, 2018, Greater Vernon voters will be asked to decide whether they support borrowing up to $25 million for the purpose of constructing a new cultural centre in downtown Vernon. The referendum, which will be held with the upcoming general local elections, will determine whether the community can move forward with grant applications and fundraising to generate the $15 million required to complete this $40 million dollar project (print a project Fact Sheet).

The Regional District is encouraging voters to learn more about this project in anticipation of the upcoming referendum, and invite you to contact the cultural services department if you have questions that aren't answered within the information provided below, or in the Frequently Asked Questions pages. Cultural services staff can be reached by email at [email protected], or by calling 250-550-3700.

Greater Vernon Cultural Centre - Project Information Presentation


There has been significant planning work that has led up to the plan for the proposed Greater Vernon Cultural Centre. It is important to have an understanding of the history in order to appreciate what has led us to this point.

Cultural Centre - Program & Costing

While a detailed design for the new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre has not yet been done, costing of the project is based on the types and sizes of spaces that are needed. The new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre will include:

  • Exhibition space for the museum and art gallery.

  • Meeting spaces.

  • Classroom spaces.

  • Workshop spaces.

  • Presentation / performance space (150-200 seat).

  • Gift shop.

  • Administrative spaces.

  • A big, bright, welcoming lobby.

Additional community consultation will be sought throughout the detailed design if the funding is secured and the project can proceed.

The new cultural centre will be three stories and provide more than double the current area of the current art gallery and museum, allowing for growth well into the future.

It will have a net square footage of approximately 39,000 (gross of 58,000 sq ft.) and will provide a building that can adequately protect the cultural collection of art, archives and artifacts owned by the community, which are currently at risk due to building limitations of the current art gallery and museum.

While the cost of land acquisition associated with the preferred Vernon Block site will require an appraisal, a $1.5 million land acquisition contingency has been included, bringing the total project cost including land, construction, equipment and site development to $40 million in 2020 dollars (costing report here).


Cultural Centre - Location

The proposed location for the cultural centre is the undeveloped  Vernon Block (old Coldsteam Hotel site), located at 3103 30 St., Vernon, B.C., centrally located to all downtown amenities, kitty corner from Vernon City Hall municipal site and adjacent to the planned rail trail corridor.

The cultural centre will take up 1/3 of the property with the remainder earmarked for mixed-use (commercial/residential) development. A new cultural centre in the downtown core will contribute to the revitalization efforts, and bring more people downtown creating a safer and more vital Vernon. When we have a vibrant downtown, there's a terrific cycle of more events, more dining and shopping, and more safety and community. All of us want to see our downtown at its best, and this cultural centre will go a long way toward helping us achieve that.

***Image shown above is just to give sense of place. No detailed building design has been done.

The new cultural centre will be accessible to everyone. Locating it in the downtown and near transit and pocket parking lots means that it's much easier for all residents to enjoy.

The Vernon Block is owned by the City of Vernon and while it has been used temporarily for parking, it was always earmarked for mixed uses that would include commercial and residential, as well as institutions such as the cultural centre. 

The City of Vernon has a parking plan that will help offset the loss in parking as the Vernon Block site is developed, and it is expected that high-use parking times of the cultural centre will be in the evenings...complimentary to the downtown shopping use during the day. 


Cultural Centre - Construction Funding

The Greater Vernon Cultural Centre project has a total project estimate of $40 million (in 2020 dollars), which includes construction, equipment, land and offsite costs. The project is proposed to be funded through a combination of borrowing (that would be approved through the upcoming referendum), grants,  fundraising and donations. The referendum would approve borrowing of up to $25 million of the project funding.

If the referendum is approved but the remaining funds can not be raised within several years, the project would not proceed and the money would not be borrowed.



Annual Financial Impact on Average Household

The annual impact on the average Greater Vernon household (with assessed value of land & improvements of roughly $430,000) to borrow $25 million over 20 years would be $48.

With the completion of debt associated with Kal Tire Place and the Performing Arts Centre, $36 will come off of the annual household taxes resulting in a net increase per household of $12 per year.

If we commit to investing in the cultural centre now, it's in today's dollars. If we wait, the costs of construction will only grow.


Cultural Centre - Operating Costs

If the referendum to approve the borrowing is successful and the remaining funding is secured, it is anticipated that the increased costs to operate the new facility, including utilities, building maintenance and insurance, will be roughly $1 per year for the average household ($433,000 assessed land & improvement value). The cost per household is quite low since the majority of the increase will be mitigated by the elimination of the current annual lease fee paid by the Regional District for the use of the current Vernon Public Art Gallery location, as well as the new, LEED Gold energy-efficient building (Learn more about LEED certification).

The operating cost increase provided above does not include any costs related to increased staffing or programming, as these expenses would be the responsibility of the organizations operating within the new cultural centre. It is expected, however, that the organizations will be able to access additional revenue to help cover these expenses with the new  programming and rental fees that can be generated with the larger facility and the potential for increased provincial and federal grants.

Cultural Centre - Assent Voting [Referendum] Information

The referedum will be held in conjunction with the local general elections, with advance polls held on October 10, 17 & 18, and general voting on October 20. Eligible voters of Greater Vernon, which includes Vernon, Coldstream and Electoral Areas 'B' and 'C' (as shown in map below), will be asked to vote on the referendum question at the same time as they are electing their local government officials.

     Map of Greater Vernon

The ballot for the referendum will be asking whether the voter is in favour of the Regional District adopting two bylaws: one to allow the Regional District to borrow up to $25 million for the purposes of constructing a multi-purpose cultural facility, and the second to establish a cultural service to operate the multi-purpose cultural facility. The Regional District must adopt a service establishment bylaw in order to provide a new service to the community. More information on this process can be found on the Province of BC website. The actual question that will be asked on the ballot is shown below:



Are you in favour of the Regional District adopting the following bylaws:

which authorizes the Regional District of North Okanagan to establish a cultural service and borrow an amount not to exceed twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000) for the purpose of financing a portion of the monies required for the acquisition of lands and construction of a new Multi-Purpose Cultural Facility for the Greater Vernon Service.



When the polls close on October 20, 2018, the votes for the referendum results will be tallied for Greater Vernon as a whole, and if more than half of the Greater Vernon electors vote "YES" to the ballot question the project will proceed to the next step of securing the additionally required funding within the five year time frame permitted to borrow the money. The money would be borrowed and the project would proceed once the additional money was secured. If the additional money can not be secured within that time limit, the project would not proceed.

If more than half of the Greater Vernon voters vote "NO", the project will not proceed.

For more information on voting please visit the website of your jurisdiction. 

Schedule of Project Information Opportunities

Downtown Sayonara Summer Event - September 14 (4:30 pm -7: 00 pm)

Recreation Centre Foyer - September 19 (6:00 pm - 7:30 pm)

BX Elementary School Library - September 20 (6:00 pm - 7:30 pm)

Coldstream Council Chambers - September 26 (6:00 pm - 7:30 pm)

Vernon Mayoral Forum & Meet the Vernon Candidates - Prestige Inn - October 2 (6:00pm - 9:00pm)

Village Green Centre Mall - October 6 (9:00 am -5:00 pm)

Vernon Viper's games (Kal Tire Place) - October 6

Meet the Candidates Forum (Electoral Areas 'B' & 'C') - BX Fire Hall - October 10 (7:00 pm)

Vernon Viper's games (Kal Tire Place) -  October 10

Village Green Centre Mall - October 11 (9:00 am -5:00 pm)

Vernon Mayoral Forum & Meet the Council Candidates - Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre - October 15 (4:30 pm - 7:00 pm)

Vernon Farmer's Market - Mondays and Thursdays through September & October (9:00 am -1:00 pm)

*Check back regularly for new opportunities

Have more questions? Please check out our Frequently Asked Questions pages, or contact our cultural services staff at [email protected]

Interested in learning more about the Greater Vernon Museum & Archives or the Vernon Public Art Gallery? Use the links below to visit their website.