Naming West Kelowna a ‘city’ won’t fix problems

…confusion within the District of West Kelowna is not going to go away by changing from district status to city status…

To the editor:

It is amazing how we as a community are defined by the businesses situated on Westbank First Nation lands. It makes one question exactly what would the ‘City of West Kelowna’ consist of?

As anyone can see, most of the shopping malls and residential construction is taking place on either Indian Reserve #9 or IR#10, not in the areas situated in the District of West Kelowna. WFN does not support the name ‘West Kelowna’ and obviously this has been an issue since the controversial opinion poll, Nov. 15th, 2008, when over 10,000 residents living on WFN lands were excluded from participating in giving their opinion (just their opinion, not their vote) in defining what the name for the community jointly shared by DWK and WFN should be.

We may have different individual governing bodies but the fact remains that we are still defined as a whole community because of how the WFN lands are situated within the boundaries of DWK. The changing of our classification from a district, which certainly describes this entire area, to ‘city’ status will not rectify something that cannot be fixed because of the wrong decisions that were made in 2008.

The fact that DWK is forging ahead with ‘city status’ with no public input, no community discussion, and with as little public knowledge as possible, contravenes our citizens’ rights in the democratic process. Aside from a couple of announcements in the local newspaper that the alternate approval process (AAP) is now underway, few people in the community even realize that this is even happening.

Questions have not been addressed, such as: Will our taxes increase, how will it affect our community’s future, will municipal employee’s wages increase, will it only cost $1,500 to change stationary, signs, highway signs, decals on vehicles, etc. Of equal importance is how will this decision affect our relationship with WFN? Have there been discussions between them with regard to how this will affect our community as a whole?

In my view, every household in our district should have been sent an information package in the mail that included a ballot. The DWK should have held a couple of public meetings to allow council and staff to present their views and public feedback on this very important issue. One needs to ask if the AAP is really democratic? Signing an AAP form and handing it to DWK offices discloses the names of local residents who are against their proposal. It is not a secret ballot. Does this voting system not contravene the democratic process?

In the AAP information letter from the district, it states: “It is the responsibility for the local government to create the elector response form which can be designed to allow either a single elector or multiple electors to sign it.” Because of the wiggle wording of this statement, the DWK conveniently chose to only provide a form that allows only individuals to sign the elector forms rather than multiple electors to sign. Does that not make it more difficult to achieve the 2,306 signatures required to defeat this initiative?

The idea that becoming a city will attract investors and alleviate confusion is almost comical. Investors certainly do not have a problem finding WFN to invest with and they are within our municipal boundaries. The controversy and confusion within the District of West Kelowna is not going to go away by changing from district status to city status, it will only create more issues by eliminating the community-friendly atmosphere between those residing on WFN lands and the citizens of our district. The truth is that we are uniquely interconnected because of our geography, not because of our governing bodies.

I am urging qualified voters to either download elector response forms from either www.districtofwestkelowna.ca or www.westbank.biz, or pick them up from the district offices at 2760 Cameron Rd., fill them out with your name, sign them and hand them in. I encourage you to make copies to hand to your neighbours, friends and relatives and offer to hand them in for them. If everyone in our community works together on the alternate approval process, we can make a difference and defeat this initiative.

Trish Ficke, Westbank

 

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