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Regional director to look into incorporation

The Regional District of the Central Okanagan's east electoral area director says she is looking into incorporation.

"I'm looking into how much it would cost us to incorporate my entire area," said Patty Hanson, Central Okanagan east director.

"The thing is, if we incorporate and have a small council, then like-minded people that live in the area could vote on issues that come up—not city councillors."

Hanson made waves when she circulated a news release on Monday afternoon, calling for the resignation of Regional District Chair Robert Hobson and development services director Dan Plamondon.

But, on Tuesday, Hanson said, "I forgot to say that I'm just asking them to resign from their position when things in my area come up.

"I just asked them to resign as board chair and director of planning while issues in my area come up, not from the Regional District," said Hanson.

"I just think that they don't want any development in my area."

Hanson feels that her constituents have been singled out and seen no growth over the past decade.

Most recently, Hanson said that she and other board members have been given inaccurate and misleading information regarding the Kelowna Mountain project.

Jim Edgson, director of the Central Okanagan west electoral area, didn't agree with Hanson's assertion.

"I was caught extremely off guard by those statements," said Edgson.

"I've never been so informed in all my life; I'm very confused as to why Patty would say that."

Edgson said he has no problems with Hobson's leadership.

"I have full confidence in Chair Hobson and I think the board, as a whole, does too," said Edgson.

"He's always there to help; he always gives direction; he's never failed me. . .this is an extremely knowledgeable man."

Similar to how Hanson currently feels, Edgson said that when he became west electoral area director four and a half years ago, he came in with the idea that his area was being singled out.

"We were getting nowhere; we weren't getting grants; we weren't getting water systems.

"I felt left out, but I got in there and I sat down and worked with staff, worked with the Chief Administrative Officer and worked with the board, and guess what? I got a tremendous amount of stuff."

He suggested that Hanson's plan to look into incorporation likely won't fix the area's problems.

"People think of incorporation as a way of escaping the Regional District. They are in for a real surprise and a real huge cost."

Despite the heated dispute, Edgson said he doesn't believe this incident will affect the board's ability to cooperate in the future.

"This is the most functional regional district in the province.

"I have full confidence that the board will come out of this stronger than ever."

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said the whole issue "has become very contentious.

"This development and the relationship may heat up and people may very well have lawyers involved."

When asked whether or not he felt he was misled on details about the Kelowna Mountain project, Findlater said, "I'm not going to comment on that one.

"That's something that the board will need to collectively take a look at and reach an understanding of what was said and what wasn't said and review the report."

He said that he did make one public comment after Hanson spoke on Monday's meeting.

"I indicated that, at a certain point, communities that are in electoral areas of the Regional District (may) feel they need to chart their own course. They do have an option: To incorporate as a municipality," said Findlater.

"That' what we did here, I think quite successfully."

According to the Regional District's 2011 statistics, the population of the east electoral area is 3,795.

Findlater said that the "huge difference" in scale between the east electoral area and West Kelowna makes it tough for him to speculate whether or not incorporation would be a viable option for Hanson's constituents.

"The first step is that the community has to get together if they feel strongly and talk about that.

"They need to have a community consensus that they need to look at this, run the numbers, look at the services, see how it would work and talk with the province. There is funding available for those kinds of restructures."

Hanson claims the Kelowna Mountain project will generate significant tax benefits for her constituents. She added that the majority of those residing in her area are proponents of the project.

Hobson left for vacation on Tuesday; therefore, wasn't available for comment.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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