Greater Vernon Cultural Centre

Next Steps

Get involved with fundraising! 

  • Donate to the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre project by contacting the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives or Vernon Public Art Gallery. Community Foundation link coming soon!

  • Contact the Cultural Centre Fundraising Team (contact to be added soon).

Get updates on the project

On October 20, 2018, Greater Vernon voters were 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 was approved with the 2018 general local elections, has provided the authority to borrow up to $25 million to fund a portion of the project, and has allowed the community to move forward to the next step of preparing grant applications and fundraising to generate the $15 million required to complete this $40 million dollar project. 


There has been significant planning work that has led up to the plan for the proposed Greater Vernon Cultural Centre, including but not limited to the development and adoption of the Greater Vernon Cultural Plan, 2016.

It is important to have an understanding of the history in order to appreciate what has led us to this point. The timeline below illustrates some of the key steps.

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 sq. ft. (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 (approved through the 2018 referendum), grants,  fundraising and donations. The referendum approved borrowing of up to $25 million of the project funding.

If the remaining funds can not be raised within several years, the project will not proceed and the borrowing approved through referendum will not take place.


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 person/year within Greater Vernon. 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 Borrowing 

A borrowing referedum was held in conjunction with the local general elections, and included eligible voters of Greater Vernon, including Vernon, Coldstream and Electoral Areas 'B' and 'C' (as shown in map below).

     Map of Greater Vernon

With the approval to borrow up to $25 million provided through the referendum, the funds will only be borrowed if the remainder of the project funding is secured.

If the entire $25 million is borrowed, it is estimated that the debt servicing will cost the average Greater Vernon household $48/year. 

Preparing for Grant Funding

In order for the project to be successful, the RDNO must secure senior-level government grant funding. In order to ensure that the project submitted for funding has the best chance of success, both of funding and sustainability, the RDNO has completed a business assessment of the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre, and in response to the findings is in the process of reviewing and revising the building program and updating the project construction and operational costs.

  • Business Assessment, April, 27, 2020
  • Revised Building Program, Coming Soon
  • Updated Project Construction and Operational Costing, Coming Soon


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.