Following a year that saw medical marijuana and a proposed office renovation make headlines, the leader of one local government is now turning his gaze skyward.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board took on a range of sticky issues in 2014, including an ill-fated proposal to restrict siting of medical marijuana facilities to certain parts of the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Work continued on efforts to improve and connect parts of the KVR Trail throughout the region, and a cleanup campaign to reduce the number of roadside signs began, although the project hit a snag when the B.C. government backed out of the partnership.
Directors also gave preliminary approval to a plan to renovate the organization’s headquarters at 101 Martin St. in downtown Penticton, a $436,000 project that has now been referred to budget deliberations.
While trying to balance the books, RDOS board chairman Mark Pendergraft is also working to solidify his group, which saw seven of its 18 positions turned over during the municipal election in November.
“I don’t know how much (the election) has changed the board yet,” he said in a year-end interview. “I guess it’s a little early to tell, but I don’t see a huge change in the dynamics.”
His forecast for 2015 calls for Penticton’s airport to take centre stage, after the federal government announced it is looking to offload the facility to local groups, including perhaps the RDOS, City of Penticton and Penticton Indian Band.
“At this point, we’re not saying that we want to operate it or anything like that. What we do want is to be involved in the discussion, and at some point we may have to make a decision whether we want to get into operations or not,” said Pendergraft.
“We want to be involved in the discussion and potentially a partnership of some sort to make it work.”
Pendergraft, who represents rural Osoyoos, said maintaining local oversight of the airport is important to the region as a whole.
“Even when you look at it from the tourism perspective, if we get (tourists) to the region, they’re helping out everybody,” said Pendergraft. “So regional thinking I don’t see as a bad thing.”