Four Okanagan municipalities contemplate valley-wide issues - InfoNews

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Four Okanagan municipalities contemplate valley-wide issues

November 14, 2013 - 5:02 PM

The four member municipalities of the Inter-Municipal Services Advisory Board - Kelowna, West Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton – met in West Kelowna October 29 to discuss topics of mutual concern including valley-wide transportation issues, provincial legislation related to debt funding for essential water works and medical marijuana grow operations.

The Board, made up of the Mayors and Chief Administrative Officers of each municipality, meets periodically to discuss mutual concerns and to plan strategically. West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray, Penticton Mayor Garry Litke and Vernon Mayor Robert Sawatzky attended.

“After five years, this Board has proven to be a valuable endeavor for West Kelowna and, I believe, for the entire Okanagan Valley,” says Mayor Doug Findlater. “By working together, we have a much better chance of meeting our goals and, at this table, we all have the best interests of our entire region in mind.”

Transportation, often a key topic at these meetings, was discussed with a focus on valley-wide connectivity related to pedestrian trails, cycling corridors and transit. The group will focus attention on communicating with the federal government on key connection improvements for the Okanagan Valley.

“I was very encouraged by the discussion related to a valley wide transportation system”, said Mayor Gary Litke.  As our populations increase, traffic congestion and air quality will continue to get worse.  The long term solution has to be public transportation”.

The Board discussed the need to amend Provincial Legislation that requires a municipality to receive voter assent for debt funding for water infrastructure upgrades that are a direct result of Interior Health Authority requirements. This issue was raised at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September. The Board will work on drafting a letter to be signed by the four mayors requesting a meeting with the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development on this matter.

New medical marijuana grow operation regulations to take effect in April 2014 and West Kelowna, Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon discussed issues of mutual concern including zoning for buildings housing grow operations, charging business licensing fees, taxation issues (ie: agricultural versus industrial taxation. This topic will be brought up for further discussion at the next Inter-Municipal Services Advisory Board meeting in January 2014.

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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