The North Westside could be another step closer to determining its future.
Regional District of Central Okanagan directors instructed staff this week to prepare a report on North Westside governance after the North Westside Communities Association requested a study.
“The board members showed great interest in the communities’ desire for a governance study, and invested an hour and a half asking questions and getting answers,” said Bob Andrews, NWCA president and governance committee chairperson.
“The gallery was full with residents in support, despite the fact that a portion of Westside Road was closed because of the Bear Creek fire and the residents had to travel more than an hour an half each way to go to regional district in Kelowna.”
Presently, the North Westside has one director at the 12-member RDCO board table, which also includes Kelowna, Lake Country, West Kelowna, Peachland and the Central Okanagan East electoral area.
Many residents have expressed concern that the current model doesn’t represent the needs of the North Westside because the area is some distance from RDCO’s office and service costs are growing. It has also been suggested the North Westside director gets outvoted by his counterparts.
“People want to make their own decisions,” said Wayne Carson, North Westside director.
“We identify more with ourselves than with anyone else.”
A possible governance option is forming a municipality. The area’s population is between 1,000 and 1,500, which isn’t an uncommon scenario in B.C.
“We’d be very close to Lumby in size,” said Carson, adding that the North Westside has a significant residential waterfront tax base.
“Whether we can afford financially to be a community is the critical issue at the end of the day.”
Carson hopes the staff report will be before the RDCO board Sept. 8 or 19 for consideration so he can pursue a governance study with Community Development Minister Peter Fassbender at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.
Richard Rolke is a reporter with the Kelowna’s Capital News’ sister paper in Vernon, the Morningstar.