VERNON – Plans are in the works to build a new ice sheet in Vernon to the north of Kal Tire Place.
The new rink would replace an old arena in the city, but the construction would also displace the Vernon Farmers’ Market.
The plan calls for a new NHL-sized ice sheet to be built to the north of Kal Tire Place, in the same area where the Vernon Farmers’ Market currently operates.
The new facility would replace the aging Civic Arena.
“The Civic Arena is approaching 80 years of age and it is deteriorating,” says Doug Ross, director of recreation services for the City of Vernon.
“The ice plant itself and the brine system underneath the slab is deteriorating. There is a risk of it failing at any moment.”
A referendum for the project is set for November 28. Voters will decided whether the Regional District of North Okanagan can borrow up to $13.25 million to build the new rink.
If the project goes ahead, the farmers’ market will have to move.
“During the construction, we’ve been asked to find an alternative location,” says market manager Ingrid Baron.
The City of Vernon says it is willing to help the market find a new location.
“We’ve approached them and asked if we could help them to find an alternative location during the construction period,” says Ross.
However, so far, the farmers’ market has not found any of the civic suggestions feasible. Baron says they’ve already sunk money into promoting the current location.
“We paid big money for the signage on the market,” says Baron. “We’ve got highway signage. We’ve got banners. All our signage would have to be changed.”
The market’s manager wants to see the new ice sheet built to the west of Kal Tire Place instead.
“I think it would be a win-win situation to leave us intact. It think we are just as important to the city,” says Baron.
However, the city estimates building to the west would cost $345,000 more.
“We think that $345,000 is a significant amount of taxpayers’ money. So we think moving [the farmers’ market] to an alternative location is probably in the best interest of the tax payer,” says Ross.
With the future of the farmers’ market up in the air, voters will have their say on the project in just over a month. Borrowing for the new ice rink is expect to cost the average homeowner $24 a year.
It remains unclear whether the farmers’ market would be able to return to the Kal Tire location after construction was finished. Ross says it is conceivable that the market would be able to return as long as there is enough space.
“There is a possibility that there is enough room there to accommodate them, but we may have to see how the actual building ends up being designed,” he says.