November 15, 2013 - 2:42 PM
VERNON - The mayor of Vernon may not be ready to cast his vote for or against amalgamation, but he’s definitely interested in learning more about it.
Based on the 2,930 signatures garnered in a petition asking local and provincial governments to develop a plan to unify Greater Vernon’s four jurisdictions, mayor Rob Sawatzky is convinced there’s enough interest to move forward to a review.
“The numbers are not quite as strong as I personally would like to have seen,” Sawatzky says. “But I think the numbers are high enough... to consider doing the study.”
“The obvious and essential next step is that the province be approached to fund such a study.”
The province won’t conduct the review unless all four jurisdictions request it.
“The province has made it clear there will be no unwilling partners,” Sawatzky says.
The Greater Vernon Governance Society insists it has demonstrated enough interest to justify the study. The petition currently has 2,032 signatures from Vernon, 611 from Coldstream and 287 from Areas B and C, collected over two months. The society points out the petition has 25.3 per cent of the Coldstream populace that voted in 2011 civic elections, 22.9 per cent of Vernon, and 23.7 in areas B and C. By comparison, the voter turnout for this past spring’s sports complex referendum was 19.5 per cent.
Sawatzky says a 2007 survey on the pros and cons of West Kelowna amalgamating into the City of Kelowna resulted in that district choosing autonomy over unification.
“Frequently, studies have shown there were not net savings to jurisdictions. If that’s what the study finds you have to see if the loss of local autonomy is worth streamlining government,” Sawatzky says. “If you only get one without the other (cost savings or streamlined government) then it’s up to an individual’s decision and it’s not such an easy choice.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helsotn at email@example.com, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013