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Parks process moving along
Marathon efforts to resolve Greater Vernon’s parks and recreation dispute continue.
Vernon, Coldstream and electoral area representatives met for about eight hours both Tuesday and Wednesday to determine if concerns about the current parks and recreation function can be addressed.
“I’m always hopeful. People are well intentioned and want this to work,” said Rob Sawatzky, Vernon director.
“We will now go back to our individual councils (for discussions) and prepare for the next round of meetings.”
Sessions between the participants are also scheduled for May 15 and 17.
Much of Wednesday’s meeting revolved around governance, including voting structure and how decisions would be made.
“The fact that we’re talking about governance first is the best way to do it,” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.
“If this process is going to fail, it will fail on this (issue). If it passes this, the rest of the issues are straightforward.”
To alleviate concerns Vernon may use its majority to force decisions, the city has suggested a super-majority be considered for major capital expenditures.
“For Vernon to go five out of seven is a big step forward,” said Macnabb of the need for compromises.
Another option put forward is requiring unanimous support among participants but some suggest one person could block a project.
“There could be the tyranny of the minority. The minority rules the roost,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake director.
Two overall structures for the function have been discussed — a slight modification to the current system where all assets are controlled by the collective or turning most parks over to the individual jurisdictions for management.
While Coldstream has considered taking over parks a way of addressing its concerns, it now believes remaining within the collective could work as long as it has the contract to maintain Coldstream parks.
“I’d rather see there be some consensus instead of pushing something through,” said Jim Garlick, Coldstream director, of Vernon’s reluctance to divest parks.
“We want to have success in the end. I don’t mind looking at a middle road and not upset everyone too much.”