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West Kelowna raises local issues at UBCM

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and members of council have been lobbying provincial government representatives in Victoria since Monday.

Elected representatives from the district are attending the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention this week and have been given face time with several ministers.

Westside representatives met with staff from the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General Tuesday to speak about the district's McDougall Creek Flood Recovery Plan and the application for emergency financial assistance to complete the recommended work.

"We commissioned the report after the major rainfall event last April that caused the flooding of McDougall Creek and damaged homes along Hitchner Road," said Findlater.

"The report clearly states that if we don't remove the accumulated debris and restore the creek bed, another damaging flood is likely to occur."

West Kelowna asked that its Provincial Emergency Program application to complete $483,000 in works be supported. The district was advised the application is still being assessed.

Next the district met with Minister of Education Don McRae to speak about ongoing concerns with the School Site Acquisition Charge.

School District 23 has indicated its intention to implement the charge on new development in local municipalities; however, the charge would not extend to development on WFN land.

The district argues, since there are non-native residents living on the First Nations land and attending schools within West Kelowna, the charge is inequitable.

West Kelowna is asking the province to investigate a means of collecting School Site Acquisition Charges outside of the Local Government Act as First Nations lands can not be subject to provincial or local government development cost charges.

Mayor and council members also met with Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond, Minister of Health Margaret MacDiarmid and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Mary Polak Tuesday.

On Monday, council met with Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development to speak about the district's interest in obtaining crown land grants and advise him of informal service reviews underway.

"When the District of West Kelowna incorporated, the province advised us that we would be supported in securing appropriate crown land for municipal purposes," said Findlater.

"The district needs land for a variety of our functions including a works yard, firehall and municipal hall. As yet we have not been successful in securing crown land grants and we asked Mr. Bennett for much-needed support from his ministry to reach this goal."

West Kelowna also took the opportunity to advice Minister Bennett that it has undertaken an informal review of services the municipality receives from other governments and is looking forward to opening the dialogue with service providers on its findings.

"When West Kelowna incorporated and took over many services previously provided by other governments, there was no formal review of services at the time.

"Five years later we are taking a look at what services we receive from others and analyzing them with what is best for the West Kelowna taxpayer in mind."

Findlater said Bennett was very receptive to the information West Kelowna provided and promised to follow up on the topics.

According to Findlater, the first two days of meetings with ministers and representatives were extremely beneficial.

"I truly believe our provincial representatives are interested in hearing what we have to say and, if they can help, they seem more than willing to offer it.

"We have a lot of leads to follow up on in the coming months, but we have certainly not been dismissed."

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