Planning is ready to begin for a multi-purpose cultural facility for Greater Vernon.
The Regional District of North Okanagan board has hired a Vancouver architecture firm (Diamond Schmitt Architects) to work with community partners, with the first meetings set for next week.
“The aim of this project is to develop a building solution that will meet the site and infrastructure needs of the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives and Vernon Public Art Gallery, while providing much-needed additional multi-purpose programming spaces, including a small performance space,” says an RDNO release.
The Regional District says the process may create the need to consider alternatives due to costs or land availability.
Greater Vernon Advisory chair Juliette Cunningham says they hope to take the project to referendum a year from now, as part of the civic elections.
“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work on the culture plan and this is a big part of that, so we believe that’s a reasonable expectation that we would go to referendum October of next year,” Cunningham tells Kiss FM.
The need for improved facilities was identified through community feedback during the development of the Greater Vernon Cultural Plan, which was adopted by the Regional District in 2016.
“We heard from the community that they were supportive of a new facility for the museum and archives and the art gallery, and that they saw value in having them co-located if possible,” says e Cunningham. “We are still early in this process, but we will be working hard with the consultant over the next six to eight months to understand the needs of the community and organizations, identify opportunities that co-location may provide, such as shared spaces and audiences, and ultimately determine what the cost may be to construct and operate such a facility.”
“A new facility will protect the community’s extensive art collection and visiting exhibitions, providing value to the community for many years to come” says Andrew Powell, President of the Vernon Public Art Gallery Society. “We are looking forward to working with the Regional District and the consultant toward a new facility that would allow activities like this to grow.”
The Regional District has budgeted $100,000 to undertake the planning which will also involve the museum, art gallery, Okanagan Indian Band, tourism and economic development representatives, and local cultural programmers.
There will also be opportunity for public feedback.
“The community’s historical collections and archives have outgrown their space, and our programming and exhibition space is very limited,” says Dan Stuart, Chair of the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Society Board of Directors. “The museum is becoming busier every day. A new facility will allow us to continue to protect our history for the benefit of the Greater Vernon community, while also being able to effectively educate and entertain residents and visitors through relevant and interactive exhibitions and presentations.”
For more information, or for updates on the project progress, visit www.rdno.ca/culturalplan.