September 28, 2016 - 2:47 PM
PENTICTON - A Okanagan Similkameen Regional District study looking at new governance options recommends the creation of a new electoral area.
The governance committee is recommending to the regional district board a boundary change involving Area “D” that would create one additional electoral area to address the imbalance of representation and better serve the diversity of the communities in the area.
The 10 member committee prepared its findings earlier this month, after receiving the consultant’s final report.
The $50,000 governance study was a year long process. The committee hired consultant Leftside Partners Inc. in August 2015. A campaign to engage public discussion and provide information on possible governance options took place last winter, which included surveys, roundtable discussions and community forums.
Residents who provided input into the study show a preference for an east-west rather than north-south split of the present electoral area, with one third of those advocating an adjustment of boundaries with existing electoral areas, or the creation of a separate electoral area with Apex Mountain Resort.
The committee concluded public support for a division of Area “D” is strong, but the manner in which that might happen is less clear. The committee report offered no estimate of costs involved in any of the possible reconfigurations.
Water was also identified as a key issue. It was noted efficiencies in operation of a number of small water purveyors in the area might be achieved through collaborative efforts. A recommendation to strike a committee to facilitate collaboration on water using representatives from the regional district, Interior Health, local improvement districts and private water purveyors was also made to the board.
Area “D” residents also consider fire services in the area to be very important. The committee made a further recommendation to the board to review fire services to determine possible options for areas that remain unprotected.
The governance study also looked at other aspects of governance in Area “D,” including provision of road maintenance, bylaw enforcement and policing, recommending consultation with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on road issues, a review of bylaw practices and continued work towards increasing policing in the area.
The committee report is expected to be presented to the board at the Oct. 6 regular board meeting.
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