Amalgamation not mentioned in city plan

The City of Vernon’s draft official community plan indicates support for regional governance

A push for amalgamation isn’t factoring into plans at Vernon city hall.

The city’s draft official community plan indicates support for regional governance based on the foundation of regional co-operation, although a citizens’ group wants the feasibility of single governance for all of Greater Vernon investigated further.

“The petition is a healthy reflection of interest among some of the electorate but it doesn’t change anything we do at this moment,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky of the reference to regional governance in the draft OCP.

“We have to deal with the current structure and we can’t presuppose what the future will be.”

Until October 31, the Society for the Future Governance of Greater Vernon is circulating a petition asking local and provincial authorities to develop a plan to combine Vernon, Coldstream and Areas B and C into a single entity.

The goal is to have a referendum on the ballot in each jurisdiction during the 2014 civic elections in regards to governance.

The draft OCP, though, does suggest the city work with the Regional District of North Okanagan on possible annexation of the Swan Lake corridor along Highway 97.

“There is significant commercial development possible there but significant infrastructure investment would be required,” said Rob Miles, long range planner.

Vernon’s draft OCP covers land-use activities for the community, while also dealing with issues such as transportation, parks, culture and economic development.

“Overall I am pleased,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham, of the draft which will replace the 2008 OCP.

“We had such a strong document in 2008 and now we’re just streamlining and reaffirming what we have done.”

Council will have further discussion in October on the draft OCP.

“I would like to get more information on the potential to open up more industrial land,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.

Cunningham agrees that there is a need to focus on the economy based on public input to date.

“Reading through the surveys, it came up frequently that young people have to leave the community (to find employment),” she said.