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West Kelowna meets with ministers at UBCM

West Kelowna will be a part of a press conference to urge scrapping the speculation tax tomorrow

At this week’s meetings with B.C. Government representatives, Mayor and Council pressed for support from the Province on a number of local issues including a commitment for a second high school and improved access to health care for the Westside.

Mayor Doug Findlater and members of West Kelowna Council are attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler this week and are provided with short face-to-face meetings with B.C. cabinet ministers and ministry staff. On Tuesday, Sept. 11, West Kelowna delegation met with:

Hon. Rob Fleming, Minister of Education to seek support for the expedited development of a second Westside secondary school. With an average growth of 1.95 per cent since 2006 in area communities, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Peachland and Regional District of Central Okanagan West Electoral Area, the student population is forecasted to increase by 1,122 students by 2027. This presents a capacity issue for the only secondary school on the Westside, Mt. Boucherie Senior Secondary.

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“Minister Fleming heard our plea for capital funding for a new senior secondary school. He said the numbers were certainly there,” said Findlater. “He also said that School District 23 has a very good reputation for these kinds of planning projects which I am pleased to note.”

Hon. Adrian Dix, Minister of Health to seek a commitment from Interior Health Authority and the Province of British Columbia on future options for health care in West Kelowna and the greater Westside. West Kelowna, with support from the District of Peachland, is requesting that an Urgent Care Facility be located on the greater Westside. A Social Issues Research Paper was prepared by an independent consultant and present to West Kelowna Council in March 2017. The report recommends an urgent care facility on the Westside combined with the provision of mental health and substance abuse services.

“Minister Dix made it clear that there will be a primary care centre established somewhere in the Central Okanagan,” said Findlater. “He said we are doing the right thing by continuing to advocate for the centre in our community, and he said he would like to hear from community groups as well. He also indicated that he would like to see doctors get involved and submit proposals.”

Findlater, with Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, met with Andrew Weaver, Green Party Leader, to discuss West Kelowna’s and Kelowna’s opposition to the government’s proposed speculation tax.

“Mr. Weaver is very much on the same page as us. He knows this tax will hurt our community and he said he is going to vote accordingly when the matter is before him,” said Findlater.

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Mayor Findlater, with Gail Given, Regional District of Central Okanagan chair met with Minister of Environment staff to discuss the ongoing difficulty with disposal of the biosolids. Currently, the RDCO trucks its biosolids out of province.

“Just days before our meeting, draft new regulations were introduced which the RDCO will provide input on,” said Findlater. “We anticipate that the new regulations will provide a framework we can work within to avoid trucking our biosolids out of the province, which is extremely expensive.”

Findlater will be a part of a press conference about the speculation tax along with Kelowna Mayor, Colin Basran, Stewart Young, Mayor of Langford and Marc Lefebvre, Mayor of Parksville. Clara Reinhardt, Mayor of Radium Hot Springs will also be a part of the press conference who are not included in the speculation tax but are concerned about the possible impact on Alberta buyers in their community.

The press conference will urge the provincial government to shelve the speculation tax and collaborate on a better way to address the issues of housing affordability and availability, according to Basran.

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