The possibility of an incorporated municipality in the South Shuswap has taken a step closer to reality.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) board discussed incorporation of Sorrento and Blind Bay at their Feb. 21 meeting. The board voted to endorse hypothetical municipal boundaries which would capture the existing Sorrento Village Centre and the entire Blind Bay residential area.
Incorporation of either Blind Bay or Sorrento into a municipality, and leaving the other part a rural area, was also studied and presented in the boundary analysis by the CSRD’s consultant, Allan Neilson, but was not supported.
Data from the 2016 census indicates the population of the potential Sorrento-Blind Bay incorporated area would be approximately 4,700. The report states it would have a population density comparable to many municipalities in B.C. Neilson said the team which crafted the proposed boundary did so to protect the hypothetical Sorrento-Blind Bay from increased costs, noting policing costs rise once communities reach a population of 5,000 residents.
The option for incorporating parts of Sorrento and Blind Bay into one municipality was the board’s preferred choice. According to Neilson’s report, the option fits best with local water and sewer systems, as well as the Sorrento-Blind Bay Fire Department’s coverage area.
The report states sufficient land for future infrastructure growth is included in the proposed boundary .
The proposed area was also chosen because it includes complete local roads that will easily facilitate transportation around the area but not so many as the cost of maintaining them will become unsustainable.
The assessed value of the properties in the proposed area sits at approximately $1.3 billion. The report states the assessed value would be greater than the base in 94 of B.C.’s 160 municipalities.
The final decision on incorporation will be up to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. The next step is a more in-depth restructure study which will consider factors such as the tax implications. After that study, Neilson said a referendum on the incorporation would likely be put to residents of the area up for incorporation.
Area C director Paul Demenok says it is clear that leaving things status quo, where the approximately 8,000 people who reside in the electoral area continue to be represented by only one director, is not an acceptable option.
“It’s just a little bit overwhelming to handle that kind of workload, and I think this represents a significant improvement in representation for all 8,000 people in Area C with either option,” he said.
If the proposed Sorrento-Blind Bay municipality is found unsuitable by the ministry, the resolution the CSRD board presented states their preference is that Area C be divided into two electoral areas. The proposed split would make Sorrento, Blind Bay, Notch Hill and the surrounding areas become one electoral area and the rest of Area C another.
A name has not been chosen for the proposed municipality yet.