Funding sought for North Westside governance study

The government will be asked for $20,000 for a study for the area from La Casa to Westshore Estates

Director Wayne Carson wants governance options for the North Westside investigated.

Director Wayne Carson wants governance options for the North Westside investigated.

The North Westside could be one step closer to looking at how it’s governed.

On Thursday, the Regional District of Central Okanagan board agreed to ask the Ministry of Community Development for $20,000 for a goverance review study for the area from La Casa to Westshore Estates.

“We’ve turned a major corner here,” said Wayne Carson, North Westside director.

“I’m absolutely thrilled the application is going in. The amount being sought should be enough to do what we want to do.”

However, Carson is concerned about the remainder of the board motion which states the proposed study would explore issues within the existing regional district electoral area structure, blending a service analysis and a community issues assessment.

“That’s making a conclusion but we have an understanding with the minister (Peter Fassbender). He has said the scope of the study is up to him and staff,” said Carson.

Carson added that the study shouldn’t preclude what form of governance the North Westside follows.

“There are only two choices. You either are an electoral area or you are a municipality. We want to look at whether there’s an ability to self-govern. Nobody has said we need to incorporate. We just want to see what it would look like and if it’s financially viable.”

Opposition to applying for the $20,000 came from three Kelowna directors, Colin Basran, Tracy Gray and Luke Stack.

“This is a futile effort that will solve nothing,” said Basran.

Both Stack and Gray expressed concern that there’s a difference of opinion between the community and RDCO on the focus of a study.

“It (Thursday’s motion) doesn’t achieve the objective of the North Westside Communities Association,” said Gray, adding that governance concerns could be addressed by having advisory committees for various services.

Support, though, for the $20,000 application came from the remainder of the board.

“I want to be hopeful that we can come to a better place at the end of this process,” said Gail Given, board chairperson.

James Baker, Lake Country director, insists the grant application simply starts the process and governance options can be considered later.

“All of the details that will come afterwards will come once you have funds,” he said.

Carson expects a ministry decision on the grant soon, and believes the study could start this spring.

“I’m confident the ministry will put a fair process before us,” he said.

 

Vernon Morning Star

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