News

Okanagan Falls to stay under thumb of RDOS

John Powell, economic development co-ordinator for Okanagan Falls, looks over a section of downtown earlier this year. The B.C. government has rejected a request to study the possibility of the community becoming a stand-alone town. - Western News file photo
John Powell, economic development co-ordinator for Okanagan Falls, looks over a section of downtown earlier this year. The B.C. government has rejected a request to study the possibility of the community becoming a stand-alone town.
— image credit: Western News file photo

Another bid to turn Okanagan Falls into a self-governing community has been rejected.

Tom Siddon, who represents the area on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, learned in April that the B.C. government chose not to fund a study needed to lay the groundwork for incorporating the community.

He said it was “disappointing” to learn his effort had stalled, but he’s been told the issue is “not dead.”

At present, Okanagan Falls is under RDOS jurisdiction, but Siddon feels residents would be better served with a proper town council that could, for example, fix its own roads, rather than wait for the Transportation Ministry to do so.

“That is why we need to have some form of town council in Okanagan Falls where the community can put pressure on, and ultimately have the budget means to tax and to invest in the improvement of the community,” he explained.

A spokeswoman for the B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development confirmed the agency denied Siddon’s request for a study, at cost of up to $80,000, but wouldn’t say why exactly.

“When evaluating a request for a taxpayer-funded governance or incorporation study, the ministry… considers a number of factors, including whether there are local issues that cannot be addressed by the existing regional governance system,” Shannon Hagerman said in a statement.

She noted, however, that the ministry “is committed to addressing this issue,” and has offered to send staff to meet with Siddon to discuss other ways to “support the community’s needs within the existing rural governance framework.”

A briefing note prepared for Minister Coralee Oakes stated the last attempt to incorporate Okanagan Falls, in 1989, was considered “contentious” and was later shot down in a failed referendum.

“Since that time, the community has seen significant change in terms of evolution of the local economy, demographics and demand for local government services,” said the note, which was released to the Western News through a freedom of information request, and mentioned previous requests for studies in 2010 and 2012 were turned down due to “fiscal constraint,”

The note also pointed out that an incorporated Okanagan Falls would reduce the B.C. government’s costs for road maintenance and policing, but would also result in less rural tax revenue and increased pressure on its small community grant budget.

Siddon said with important upcoming community projects on the horizon, such as the implementation of an Eastside Road transit service and beginning of a downtown revitalization project, he’s going to set aside the issue of incorporation for now.

However, he has had discussions with the RDOS to create a development advisory committee that would act as a “de facto town council” and make recommendations to him that he could then take to the board.

 

 

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

McCluskey makes Canada
 
Name released of Oliver pedestrian that was killed
 
Snowfall keeps school buses parked and causes power outages
Child poverty report card highlights needs of Penticton food bank and more
 
Robbery, assault land Penticton man in jail
 
Soldiers graves marked in ceremony
Surgical waits average five months in B.C.
 
Klabona Keepers served permanent injunction
 
Prince Rupert LNG plant, pipelines get B.C. certificates

Community Events, November 2014

Add an Event


Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Nov 26 edition online now. Browse the archives.