December 11, 2012 - 1:44 PM
Despite strong opposition from one councillor, Vernon has agreed to a change of ownership, management, and funding for the area's parks.
The Regional District of the North Okanagan and the District of Coldstream both signed onto a new agreement for servicing of parks last week. With Vernon signed on, the agreement can now move forward to implementation.
Currently, the area has numerous parks in one jurisdiction but managed by another and that has led to conflict between districts. The new agreement would shift the ownership of some parks back to the district they belong in. Ownership of Kalamalka Beach park, for example, would be transferred from Vernon to the regional district. Ownership of Lakeshore Road lots would move from the regional district to the City of Vernon.
Coun. Bob Spiers, the lone voice against, says Vernon is getting short changed in the agremeent.
"This memorandum will require us to give up ownership of our parks," said Spiers at last night's council meeting.
He said the agreement was substantially changed at the last minute and Vernon taxpayer money will be transferred to the regional district along with valuable properties.
"We could have given a license of occupancy for Kal Beach, (instead of ownership)," he said.
He also noted that since Polson Park is considered a local park under the agreement, all maintenance costs will fall solely on the City of Vernon.
Coun. Juliette Cunningham said the agreement resolves much of the disfunction of the current system, and that it is "a reasonable compromise to move forward with some autonomy in our own jurisdiction."
Cunningham also reminded council that Vernon remains a partial owner in whatever the regional district owns.
"We're giving (the parks) to the community, not giving them away," said Mayor Rob Sawatzky. "(The agreement) has flaws, but don't we all?"
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012