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South Okanagan Similkameen Regional District finds funding fix for film commission

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board members wrestled with a funding method for the Okanagan Film Commission once again on Thursday, June 2, 2016. In photo, from left to right, Oliver Directors Terry Schafer and Ron Hovanes, Osoyoos Director CJ Rhodes, and Penticton Director Judy Sentes.
June 03, 2016 - 6:30 PM

PENTICTON - Regional district directors have found a way to provide funding to the Okanagan Film Commission on a regular basis.

The board has been trying to find an acceptable means to fund the commission for some time. West Bench Director Michael Brydon started the ball rolling last year when he called for establishment of an Economic Development function to fund the commission properly and transparently.

In previous years, funding for the commission was provided through an annual grant-in-aid by the regional district in amounts from $35,000 to $50,000, but recent amendments to the policy now prohibits any one organization from receiving more than two grants in a four-year period.

Attempts to establish an economic development fund last year failed when the bylaw failed to garner enough director support. After the board opted not to establish an Economic Development Fund, staff were asked to come up with another means by which the commission could be funded.

The staff recommendation put forward Thursday would have seen the board establish a specific Okanagan Film Commission Service bylaw with a maximum ceiling of $35,000. If approved, the bylaw would need to get the public nod through the Alternate Approval Process.

Several directors objected to singling out the Okanagan Film Commission as lone recipient, Electoral Area “G” Director Roger Mayer noting many other industries provide “substantially more” to the region’s economy, sentiments echoed by Summerland Director Peter Waterman, who said it didn’t make sense to have one particular group named.

Director Brydon asked why the board would want to limit themselves to a singular organization by naming the fund, suggesting once again calling it economic development, a friendly amendment later put forward by Naramata Director Karla Kozakevich.

After lengthy discussion, the board agreed to the amendment, changing the scope of the bylaw to one of economic development with a maximum ceiling of $35,000.

Public consent to establish the service this time around will be made through the alternate approval process, rather than director assent. If passed, regional taxpayers will see a tax increase of 64 cents for an average house valued at $320,000. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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