EDITORIAL: Sports facility offers benefit
Greater Vernon officials are saying something most residents already know, but it bears repeating.
The future of economic development partially hinges on tourism and whether the April 6 referendum on a sports complex is successful.
“If we don’t have the right facility, we can’t host the B.C. summer or seniors games,” said Tannis Nelson, community development co-ordinator.
And the best example is that while Vernon hosted the first B.C. Seniors Games in 1988, they haven’t been back. The reason is the Polson Park track is inadequate and doesn’t meet the size requirements. A rubberized surface is also something most competitions consider for a venue.
The lack of a proper track has also meant the B.C. Summer Games have never been to Vernon. Vernon Minor Football also can’t bring provincials here because the Polson Park field and local school fields are not sufficient.
A recent Seniors Games generated about $2.5 million in economic activity for the host community. Much of that goes into hotels, restaurants and shops, but that benefits all of us as those businesses hire staff and they pay taxes. It’s also hoped that visitors will like what they see and travel back to the host community or move there permanently, bringing their skills, interests and, in the case of family, their children who can help bolster lagging school enrolment.
There’s no question that $7.5 million is a lot of money for construction, and then there will be annual operating costs. For some residents, the additional $15 a year in taxes (for debt servicing) may be a challenge.
But cost aside, the overall community benefit must be taken into consideration.