Regional board continues to wrestle with economic development idea

A continuing discussion over whether the regional district should adopt a new economic development service bylaw continued at a regional district committee meeting on Thursday.
Image Credit: shutterstock

PENTICTON - A question of transparency in how the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen hands out grants for economic development appears to have inspired directors to consider adding more money on it.  

It started with a simple concept at a committee meeting in February. Instead of giving the Okanagan Film Commission a grant-in-aid every year (last year, it got $34,000), West Bench Director Michael Brydon suggested it would be more transparent to call it what it is — an economic development budget. But that call for transparency opened the door to a question of further economic development, which the board cut in 2003.

At last week’s meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Bill Newell said the previous economic development bylaw allowed the board a maximum $100,000 to draw on, as an example of possible funding.

Oliver Director Ron Hovanes made it clear he wants that open door slammed shut again calling it 'a $100,000 slush fund' that directors or managers could play with.

“I really hesitate to take public trust dollars and say ‘we’re just going to throw $100,000 for regional economic development, and hopefully we’ll find some ideas down the road on how we can spend it.’ That’s kind of what I see here,” he said.

Brydon reiterated his concerns.

“The simple fact is this board is doing economic development with everyone participating for the film commission, the Olympics — and those amounts are hidden away in a 526-page budget, so no one can find them,” he said.

Directors can dig deeper into how the service is provided if it’s a budget item, not a grant-in-aid.

This discussion will continue at the June 18 meeting.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.


letters-to-the-editor
CANNINGS: Celebrate Canada Day by learning the full history of Canada
  OPINION Editor, Parliament has risen, and it feels very good to be back in British Columbia for the summer. Ottawa is gearing up for the big Canada Day festivities for the 150th birthday of our country, but I ca

Top News