Study finds few people use regional district office in Okanagan Falls - InfoNews

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Study finds few people use regional district office in Okanagan Falls

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July 19, 2019 - 12:15 PM

PENTICTON - A 10 month long, $82,000 study to find out how useful the satellite office in Okanagan Falls is to regional district residents has been halted after just a few months.

Regional district directors voted in support of a recommendation to allow Electoral Area I to withdraw from their participation in the service at yesterday’s, July 18, board meeting on the heels of a survey and report completed by Summerland consultant Gregory Rose that concluded very few residents used the Okanagan Falls office.

The community office in Okanagan Falls, which had an operating budget of $169,000, was flagged for a service review after Electoral Area D split in two, creating Area I, last year.

Rose’s survey, which began in March and was supposed to take until fall to complete, was halted last month and his report finalized June 30.

The report consisted of 282 surveys collected from residents of electoral areas D and I. It concluded 87 per cent of Okanagan Falls residents knew of the community services office but 79 per cent of those surveyed don’t use the service. For those living outside of Okanagan Falls, 90 per cent don't use the office.

Only 18 per cent said the office offered a direct benefit to their households and 71 per cent said they could access all services required at the main regional district office in Penticton.

In newly formed Area I, 91 per cent of respondents said they don’t use the Okanagan Falls office. Out of 62 respondents to the survey who live in Kaleden, only six claimed to use the service.

Rose concluded there was little support from Area I residents to warrant continued sharing of the cost of the office. He provided several recommendations, including closing the office.

"The service is underused and not generally supported by residents in either electoral area," he said.

Area D director Ron Obirek says the office will remain open, noting Rose's report was not the only item considered when assessing the office's importance to Area D. He says the office has and continues to play an important part in grant applications and tourism in Area D.

Thursday's vote means both electoral areas will have their own separate economic development bylaw.

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