Kelowna, Vernon and OIB meet to address issues of mutual interest

Three jurisdictions are looking to hammer out some outstanding issues and work together.

The Okanagan Indian Band, Lake Country and Kelowna councils met Monday for the first time ever.

“It was a historic occurrence for all three councils to get together,” said Chief Fabian Alexis.

“My council is quite happy with the discussions and we’re looking forward to meeting with them more.”

The session was originally called to discuss a proposed prison that Kelowna supported on Jim Bailey Road but the band and Lake Country opposed.

However, that topic dropped off the table because the provincial government has abandoned plans for a prison on the former Hiram Walker distillery site.

Instead, the three councils considered ways to work together in the Duck Lake area where all three jurisdictions border each other.

“We need more collaborative planning in that area,” said James Baker, Lake Country mayor, adding that there has been land use conflicts over the years.

Possible ways to co-operate include land use strategies and infrastructure like water, sewer and roads.

“If we can do some shared planning and have a say on what happens, that is important,” said Baker.

A number of homes are located on the reserve land at Duck Lake.

“We need to possibly enter into service agreements (water and sewer) in the future with Kelowna or Lake Country,” said Alexis.

Lake Country and the OIB have had a relationship for years.

“We recognize they have title and rights to lands we are in and we need to work with them,” said Baker.

The band has previously presented a protocol agreement to the City of Kelowna but the potential relationship never progressed.

“We have resurrected that discussion. Kelowna has said it would seriously look at it,” said Alexis.

Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd believes Monday’s meeting was positive.

“We, as the City of Kelowna, will look at protocol agreements the Okanagan Indian Band has with five other municipalities or regional districts. It’s about meeting during the year and working together.”

Shepherd believes there is a need for Kelowna, the band and Lake Country to look at planning for the area where their boundaries meet, particularly because future development is set for the reserve.

“They need services such as water and sewer and there is an impact on roads,” she said.

“The three jurisdictions have to sit down and determine what is achievable.”

Another issue discussed is the OIB’s attempt to have 18,000 acres added to its reserve.

“Some of that land touches on regional district property and we suggested they meet with the regional district,” said Shepherd.

In 2009, the CORD opposed expansion of the reserve, stating it could limit public access to lands, impact land use and the reserve would not be subject to CORD bylaws.