Regional benefits flow both ways

Before pushing upgrades to the 911 emergency service to a region-wide referendum, ratepayers should weigh the pros and cons

Penticton is a geographically challenged city, established as a distribution hub for the South Okanagan and Similkameen. Most surrounding communities were settled earlier or around the same time as Penticton. We have long had water systems, churches, cemeteries, parks, community halls, post offices, elementary schools, libraries and eventually volunteer fire departments which we continue to fund.

Major commercial, health, legal and government services along with high schools, entertainment facilities and restaurants were logically located in Penticton. Rural residents also support the city’s commercial base.

Penticton could opt to annex closer new suburbs, or seek economies through having more services delivered by the region as Kelowna and Vernon do to expand their tax base. Collaboration with the Penticton Indian Band on development is finally happening.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen was established in 1972 to regulate regional growth. This office collects and administers taxes for unincorporated areas as well as municipalities for regional services and hospital construction.

Persistent letter writer Elvena Slump would have folks believe that City of Penticton residents are taken advantage of by rural residents. The city chooses to appoint four directors to the RDOS. All financial matters are decided by weighted votes determined by population and tax base. Penticton is rarely at a disadvantage.

None of us would have the 911 emergency service if it had not been established through the regional district. Many thanks are due to former Summerland mayor Bob Shewfelt for spearheading this initiative. Penticton benefits most since the largest population generates the most calls. Statistics are published daily for all to see. What would the consequences be of not upgrading the region’s 911 system, or of fracturing it as Ms. Slump advocates?

Before pushing this issue to a region-wide referendum, ratepayers should weigh the pros and cons. Information is available from RDOS directors and staff.

Jeanne Lamb