The Central Okanagan has renewed its commitment to cleaner regional air, but reluctance is also in the breeze as the north Okanagan has not yet renewed its own commitment to the agreement.
The board of the Regional District of Central Okanagan voted to renew its participation in the Okanagan Similkameen Airshed Coalition for another year, at their meeting Jan. 24.
The regional agreement has been around for eight years, and was intended to develop a Valley-wide strategy to improve air quality as the population grows.
Director Doug Findlater said he was quite happy to support the memorandum of understanding.
He was slightly concerned that the coalition board had considered the creation of a part-time administrative position, as well as the creation of another body with taxation authority, similar to the Okanagan Basin Water Board. “I think quite a lot more work needs to be done.”
In response to questions on whether the coalition had a strategic plan or set of priorities, director Sharon Shepherd noted the coalition has a region-wide approach to a number of initiatives.
Shepherd said the coalition runs a shared program up and down the valley that examines air emissions and that, in the past, all three regional districts have shared in vehicle emission testing programs.
She said the Regional District of North Okanagan will likely not continue with its commitment to air quality, but the city of Vernon may carry on alone. Shepherd pointed out some funding is predicated on the entire region taking part and working together on the issue.
Director Graeme James said he also supported the memorandum of understanding, but also had concerns about the coalition. “There’s just as much air in the north as there is in the central and south Okanagan.”
James added it would be another load on local taxpayers and he would be reluctant to enter such an agreement.
Director Jim Edgson said the central Okanagan will probably end up funding the majority of initiatives.
“We do have a huge stake in that.”