September 23, 2014 - 8:44 AM
VERNON - A question about changing how local municipalities are governed has been stripped from the fall election ballot in Vernon.
City council voted not to include a question asking voters if they want the city to pursue the creation of a municipal restructuring committee. The committee would study the implications of governance restructuring.
The decision follows a January resolution to do the opposite. After hearing from the Greater Vernon Governance Society — which cites the benefits of amalgamating the City of Vernon, the District of Coldstream, and electoral areas B and C into one — council said it would put the question on the ballot, and even encouraged other municipalities to do the same.
Now, council is backtracking on the idea, with some councillors calling it unrealistic because the province requires willing partners in order to do the study. So far, Coldstream and areas B and C have been firmly opposed to the review.
Mayor Rob Sawatzky said it makes no sense to put time and resources into something that can’t happen without the cooperation of other municipalities.
“Are we being responsible if we leave the... question on the ballot with no intention of pursuing it?” Sawatzy said. “I’m not sure that's a fair way to deal with our public.”
The mayor added it likely wouldn’t improve inter-municipal relationships if they included the question.
Coun. Bob Spiers was in favour of sticking with the original motion, saying it would provide the new council with direction on what its citizens wanted. And while there aren’t any willing partners now, Spiers said with new councils, there could be new interest.
“It’s just to get a sense of what the people think, and whether that should be pursued in the future,” Spiers said, noting the province would cover the cost of the review.
Spiers and Coun. Mary Jo O'Keefe voted against cutting the question from the ballot.
The Governance Society collected 2,930 signatures on a petition to review the region’s governance structure. Because Coldstream and the electoral areas were opposed, the province refused to conduct the study.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014