Vernon council voted on a tax rate option that slightly increases

A look at tax rate options

On Monday, at its regular meeting, Vernon council was presented with four different tax rate options.

Council voted in favor of Option 4, which maximizes utility class revenue and shifting 0.5 per cent revenue from business to residential.

Coun. Brian Quiring initially preferred Option 3 which maximizes utility class revenue and using 2020 business/residential ratio. This option is the closest to number four.

After some thought Coun. Quiring was in favour of number four.

“Option 4 is the right option, absolutely for this year, I'm totally in support of it,” says Coun. Quiring. “I’m happy with it. Normally I wouldn’t be because we keep nudging it up, but it's appropriate this year.”

Coun. Scott Anderson seconded Coun. Quiring, saying that given the circumstances brought on by COVID-19, this option is a “moderate improvement that is still going in the right direction.”


Solutions for overflow parking at Paddlewheel Park brought to council

Overflow parking solutions

At its regular meeting, on Monday, Vernon council took a look at strategies to investigate overflow parking options at Paddlewheel Park.

Council asked staff to report back in the fall as to the progress on the medium and long term options for additional parking at or near Paddlewheel Park.

Mayor Victor Cummings proposed an alternative motion.

“My motion is to bring this back to council with a review of the 7800 block Okanagan Landing Road with a look at widening the gravel shoulder, to add significantly to the parking,” said Mayor Cummings.

He added that there is already a significant shoulder that should be used for more parking and it's a low cost option.

Despite Cummings' alternative motion, council voted in favour of the initial recommendation.

The medium term plan allows parking on private properties. Administration is actively investigating opportunities for shared public parking on private properties in the area.

They plan on reporting back at a future council meeting with potential options.

The long term plan calls for future park improvements and development. Administration will review all future Paddlewheel Park improvements for opportunities to improve the parking management in the area.

Vernon city council all voted in favour to receive the "Labour Market Overview for Vernon"

Local labour force overview

Vernon city council voted unanimously to receive the memorandum titled "Labour Market Overview for Vernon", submitted by the economic development planner.

In its regular meeting, Mayor Victor Cummings pointed out that the data, even though from 2016, shows that Vernon has a “very diversified economy.”

Mayor Cummings also confirmed that they will be getting data from 2021.

Data specific to Vernon is only available every five years through the Statistics Canada Census. ln 2016, Vernon had a labour force of 19,030.

The 2016 report also stated that there was a total of 57 per cent of labour force participation, 61 per cent of those being male and 53% female.

Classical music in the sunshine at Vernon Community Music School

'Happy to hear live music'

The Okanagan Symphony may not be touring as usual during the pandemic, but that didn't stop members from putting on a socially distanced outdoor show at the Vernon Community Music School.

The heritage East Hill music school was the site for the performance on Sunday, as classical music lovers gathered on the lawn while a violin duo played from the school's ornate front veranda.

"The school was a host partner to a violin duo from the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble in a socially distanced performance," says the music school's Heather Perkull.

OSO concertmaster Rachel Kristenson and principal second violinist Martine denBok performed on the newly restored veranda for music school students and their parents.

"There was so much interest, we had four 20-minute concerts to comply with the public health order of the 10-person maximum capacity for outdoor gatherings, and be able to maintain appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols for the musicians, staff, students and their families," says Perkull.

"The sun was shining and people were so happy to hear live music for the first time in what feels like forever.

"We are grateful to be able to share the joy of music within our community, and provide a bit of comfort to those who need it – especially in a pandemic. We look forward to having more outdoor concerts at the Vernon Community Music School in the near future, as we all look for ways to connect in our community."

Vernon city council votes to endorse Climate Action Plan

Climate plan endorsed

Vernon city council has voted to endorse the city's first Climate Action Plan.

The Climate Action Plan sets targets that reflect the urgency of climate change and includes actions that not only help Vernon reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and get ready for the impacts that climate change brings, but also result in immediate benefits for the residents.

Council was also presented with a survey taken online that included 178 participants.

The survey received a favourable response with 83 per cent of respondents strongly or somewhat supporting the plan, 14.6 percent not supporting the plan, while 2.2 per cent of respondents were neutral.

It also indicated 78.9 per cent of respondents found the Climate Action Plan easy to understand, while only 5.9 per cent found it to be “not at all” understandable.

“I have to say, of all the years I've been on council, this has to be the most ambitious project that has been led by the members of the community,” said Coun. Brian Quiring. “The amount of work that went into this is absolutely mind-boggling.”

Quiring is a member of the committee. He says that he’s received many letters from youth supporting the plan.

The City will now begin the development of an implementation strategy, including a long-term communications and engagement plan.

Vernon School District appoints new superintendent

New super for SD 22

Vernon's School District 22 will have a new superintendent at the end of the school year.

The board of education has appointed Dr. Christine Perkins to the position, effective Aug. 1.

Perkins is currently superintendent of the Kootenay Lake School District. She previously served as assistant superintendent in School District 58 (Nicola-Similkameen).

She holds a doctorate of educational leadership and policy from UBC and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Gonzaga University.

“I am honoured to be coming to work and learn on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Sylix people,” says Perkins.

“I am committed to improving literacy (all forms) and numeracy K-12, as well as increasing graduation rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students alike.”

The board noted its appreciation of outgoing Supt. Joe Rogers, who is retiring.

Arrowleaf balsamroot blooms filling Okanagan hillsides with spring colour

Okanagan sunflowers back

A sure sign that spring has really arrived in the valley is the return of "Okanagan sunflowers."

Arrowleaf balsamroot blooms are filling south-facing slopes with a blaze of yellow, signalling the change of seasons.

And, it's going to be a fine week to get out on local trails and take in the natural display.

Temperatures are expected to reach to low 20s by the tail end of the week, with sunny skies all week long.

Daytime highs will climb daily from the low teens to 22 C by Friday.

The arrowleaf balsamroot, or balsamorhiza sagittata, is a native species of flowering plant in the sunflower branch of the aster family.

It is widespread across Western Canada and much of the western United States.

Its range extends from British Columbia and Alberta as far south as northern Arizona and the Mojave Desert of California, and as far east as the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The hardy plants are drought tolerant and have traditionally been used by First Nations as both a food and medicine. The entire plant can be eaten. But, be warned – it can have a bitter and pine-like taste.

If you're looking to get outdoors, the block of high pressure building over the region should result in warm, dry weather about five to 10 degrees above seasonal norms, according to Environment Canada.

Vernon chamber's Mission Possible enters second week of shop-local promotion

Mission Possible: Week 2

Science fans will have no trouble knowing where to go for clues in Week 2 of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce's Mission Possible.

Chamber manager Dan Proulx puts on his best spy routine in the chamber's latest YouTube video, directing participants (or volunteer spies) in the shop-local campaign to a well-known local destination for science lovers.

You might want to check out its website for the latest coded clues.

The Mission Possible promotion, presented by Tourism Vernon, encourages residents to solve clues while supporting local businesses and non-profits.

It's a fun way to help out local businesses that may be struggling during the pandemic.

The event continues until May 2 and, of course, is a play on the famous Mission Impossible action spy films.

“Using your super spy skills to unravel a series of clues and tasks, you will scout and infiltrate local businesses,” said Proulx.

Complete the weekly tasks for the chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a staycation for two at Sparkling Hill Resort, including a round of golf at The Rise and dinner at Marten Brew Pub.

COVID-19 exposures listed at VSS, Clarence Fulton in Vernon

More high school exposures

More COVID-19 exposures have been reported at two Vernon high schools.

Interior Health's public exposures web page lists new exposures at Vernon Secondary School and Clarence Fulton Secondary School.

The dates of possible exposure at VSS have been expanded to include April 6 as well as the previously reported March 31 and April 1. It's not known if that is in relation to a new case.

Meanwhile, at Fulton, potential exposure dates also include March 31, April 1 and 6.

These follow notice last week of exposures at BX Elementary School on April 6 and 7 as well as March 29-31.

Interior Health undertakes contact tracing in all instances.

The health authority will determine if anyone in the school community is a close contact that is required to self-isolate.

Other recent school exposures in the Vernon area include:

  • Mission Hill Elementary: Mar. 30, 31, April 1
  • Hillview Elementary: April 1
  • Coldstream Elementary: March 30, 31

Weekend crash in Vernon shears off power pole, police investigating

Crash shears power pole

Vernon RCMP are conducting an impaired driving investigation after a vehicle sheared off a hydro pole Saturday evening.

Photos from the scene show a compact SUV smashed through a fence and snapped off a hydro pole on the 2000 block of 43rd Avenue about 6:40 p.m.

RCMP, paramedics and firefighters responded to the incident and found the vehicle disabled, with the driver trapped inside.

"Investigators determined the vehicle had driven through several yards and struck a hydro pole before it became disabled, coming to rest against a fence, trapping the driver inside," Vernon RCMP spokesperson Const. Chris Terleski.

An impaired driving investigation was initiated when officers determined the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was affected by alcohol, says Terleski.

The driver was taken by ambulance for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

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