December 10, 2013 - 10:34 AM
VERNON - There’s interest in conducting a study on the pros and cons of amalgamating Greater Vernon into one political body.
While Vernon council won't vote on the matter until the new year, it looks like they'll be in support of the study, if not amalgamation itself.
The Society for the Future Governance of Greater Vernon has gathered 2,930 signatures in a petition to have local and provincial governments unite the four jurisdictions of Vernon, Coldstream, and Areas B and C. The society insists it’s enough support to justify a review on the matter, and some City of Vernon politicians agree.
Coun. Catherine Lord expressed her desire to support the study at a council meeting Monday. Her declaration came on the heels of a letter from the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce urging local officials to request a governance review from the province. The chamber and its 650 registered businesses came out in support of amalgamation last month.
“This question has come up and it’s been arising and arising over a lot of years,” Lord said, noting it keeps getting pushed to the side.
“It (study) may just lay things to rest once and for all.”
While she’s personally against the idea of amalgamating the four jurisdictions, she says reviewing it doesn’t hurt—especially if it’s on the province’s dime.
Vernon mayor Rob Sawatzky has also spoken in favour of conducting the review, but hasn’t cast any judgement for or against the concept.
There’s a little confusion over what the province needs before it goes ahead with the survey. Jason Shortt, with the society, says MLA Eric Foster initially indicated they needed strong petition results to prompt a study from the province, but now there’s more.
“Midway through it became clear it wasn’t just about numbers, it was about having local government on board,” Shortt says.
The society is now trying to find out exactly what the province requires to undertake the study, whether it’s the blessing of all the jurisdictions, some, or just the petition results alone.
“It’s been a set of moving goal posts, but we’re not going away or giving up,” Shortt says.
Vernon council is expected to make a decision on the study at their next meeting when the society is scheduled to make a presentation.
“I’d prefer to wait and see what they have to say,” Coun. Juliette Cunningham said.
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This story was edited at 12:25 p.m. Dec. 10 to make changes to the headline and copy.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013