Letter: West Kelowna council wants ‘city’ over ‘district municipality’ designation

Take part in the Alternate Approval Process to have a say in changing West Kelowna from a district municipality to a city.

To the editor:

The District of West Kelowna is a very unique area; no other place in Canada encompasses a self governing Indian band within its boundaries, essentially splitting it in two. Passing the signs along the Hwy. 97 corridor from the Okanagan Lake bridge to Peachland, one sees the magnitude of how this affects the continuity of who we are as a community.

Since becoming self-governing only 10 years ago, WFN has surpassed DWK in growth and continues to do so.  From the bridge to Boucherie Road is IR #10, a large shopping area with West Harbour becoming a popular place to retire, a proposed hospital, and many more projects to come. This area’s legal name and address is Kelowna, B.C.

The main shopping district and residential area is on Westbank First Nation land, IR #9 which spans from Daimler to Gellatly roads and includes land along the lake front and a large acreage on the south side of Gellatly behind A&W. It also surrounds three sides of the Johnson Bentley Pool. The big box stores such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, London Drugs, Canadian Tire and many other commercial enterprises choosing to locate in Westbank, utilize the legal name and address for these businesses as Westbank.

The District of West Kelowna is made up of several different neighbourhoods and according to our mayor and council and the many studies that were undertaken, Westbank has been defined as the cultural, civic and social heart of the District of West Kelowna. This historic area is defined by its sweeping views of the lake and its 112-year history.

So why ‘city’ status?  The DWK explains their position as follows:

Outside British Columbia the term ‘city’ is much more recognizable to investors and new residents looking for a new location for business or home. A change in designation would also help alleviate confusion. There are more than 1,400 businesses located in West Kelowna whereby one would expect the municipality to have a ‘city’ designation. Additional examples of confusion:  ‘city hall’ and ‘city manager’ are commonly used terms. There may be confusion with the term ‘district,’ for example School District #23 and Regional District of Central Okanagan.

As a district we encompass every resident including WFN as a whole community. As a city we define who is who. Will it alienate us further from working closely with WFN, rather than unify us as a community? Will it create more issues within our boundaries?

The Alternate Approval Process is now in progress. If you are opposed to the municipal designation changing from a district municipality to a city, you can sign an Elector Response Form. If you qualify as an elector of the DWK, Elector Response Forms are available at the DWK office at 2760 Cameron Rd., or can be downloaded from  www.westbank.biz, filled in and submitted to the above address before 4 p.m. on May 11, 2015.

Betty Hersey, Westbank


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