PENTICTON - Splitting Area “D” in two is seen as a first step in resolving size and population issues with the Okanagan Similkameen Regional District’s biggest rural area, directors have decided.
The Area “D” governance committee presented their recommendations to Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board directors at the regular board meeting today, Oct. 6.
Committee chair Bob Daly said the committe’s findings resulted in a recommendation to proceed with an application for a boundary change in Area “D" dividing the area into two parts consistent with the Official Community Plan’s service areas D1 and D2.
Daly said the $50,000 study did not discuss boundary changes initially in the 15 month process, but the notion came about after the consultant's analysis and research into Area “D” governance issues.
The committee also made recommendations to the board to facilitate collaboration amongst water purveyors in the area to share knowledge and services where possible.
Other recommendations were made with respect to area roads, policing, fire service, bylaw enforcement and board communications.
West Bench Director Michael Brydon asked about Okanagan Falls incorporation, something Daly said was never part of the conversation.
Area “D” director Tom Siddon noted the cost implications surrounding incorporation, adding the province, in funding the study, gave “clear cut orders the study was not about incorporation.”
Siddon said the process involved gathering input and providing information to 10 different community groups in an electoral area containing 7,000 people, calling it “a worthwhile exercise for other areas.”
Penticton director Helena Konanz saw problems stemming from having to deal with yet another voice at the table, stating adding another boundary was not the way to go.
Konanz said the idea would create further inefficiencies by adding another chair to the 18 member board.
“This needs to be looked at holistically, directors could take on more responsibility by taking pieces of the area,” she said to a chorus of groans from other directors.
Neighbouring area director Karla Kozakevich disagreed with piecing off Area “D” to other areas. She said another director at the table would not be an issue in terms of an inefficient board.
Chief administrative officer Bill Newell said the board was comparable in size to others in the province, adding there were many unknowns in what was involved in splitting up an electoral area, including whether or not public assent would be needed. He said piecing the area off to neighbouring electoral areas would be an onerous task requiring a study of its own.
“If we are to make use of this study, this is the way to do it,” he said.
Brydon said the split may not last, depending on population growth and other factors, but added it was “time to get in the business of tinkering with boundaries."
Siddon urged acceptance of the motion in order to get the process underway in time for the next election.
The board moved to proceed with an application to the province to split Area “D,” Konanz casting the only dissenting vote.
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