West Kelowna council will debate its proposed 2018 budget today.—Image: City of West Kelowna West Kelowna council will debate its proposed 2018 budget today.—Image: City of West Kelowna

West Kelowna looks for confirmation that West Kelowna Transmission Project is provincial priority

Meetings with the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General to ensure adequate RCMP coverage in rural areas

At today’s meetings with provincial representatives at the 2018 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler, mayor and council continued to lobby for a review of provincial policing levels serving out of the West Kelowna RCMP Detachment and sought confirmation that the West Kelowna Transmission Project continues to be a provincial priority.

Mayor Doug Findlater and members of West Kelowna council were provided with short face-to-face meetings with ministry representatives and discussed the following issues with:

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General to discuss rural detachment policing levels. West Kelowna is concerned that the province’s contribution towards rural policing is not adequate and is asking for a review of services by the province. West Kelowna pays for the municipal police force, 26 officers, to serve the City of West Kelowna. The province pays for 24 officers to serve Westbank First Nation, Peachland, Central Okanagan West Electoral Area, Highway 97C/Okanagan Connector to Sunset Main, Okanagan Lake from Peachland to Lake Okanagan Resort and rural areas on the east side of Okanagan Lake including Big White and Joe Rich. With RCMP requesting eight additional officers from West Kelowna, which would amount to a 4.5 per cent tax increase, West Kelowna wants to ensure it is not taking on policing costs outside of its jurisdiction.

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“A condition of our Municipal Policing Agreement with the province to conduct reviews of service levels has not been met. Council is hesitant to entertain hiring more officers, particularly since it will mean a large tax increase for taxpayers, without a solid understanding of provincial policing out of the West Kelowna detachment,” said Findlater. “We don’t want West Kelowna taxpayers paying for policing other areas and we need to be sure that isn’t happening.”

West Kelowna is in a unique situation with two large, concentrated urban populations under the jurisdiction of the rural police force. Findlater said Minister Farnworth indicated E-Division has new staff who could do the analysis that is necessary.

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Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to discuss the City’s ongoing interest in ensuring BC Hydro construct a second transmission line into the community. Currently, there is only one power source which distributes power to West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Peachland, parts of the Regional District of Central Okanagan and as far south as Summerland. A commitment was made by B.C. Hydro to construct the second power source, however a final route has not been determined.

“We are reminding BC Hydro about the promise to provide power security to our communities, and emphasizing that the new route should be considered with potential forest fire threat in mind,” said Findlater. “The Smith Creek forest fire in 2014, which came very close to the power line, reminds us how vulnerable we are if the power supply is compromised.”

Findlater indicated that ministry staff said the project is advancing and it is expected B.C. Hydro will have shovels in the ground by 2023 with a projected completion date in 2025.

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