City doesn’t want changes to parks service

Vernon votes to keep parks and recreation function as is

Greater Vernon’s conflict over parks and recreation is heating up.

Vernon has endorsed the current function structure and it won’t support the removal of some parks, something Coldstream wants so it can provide more direct control over maintenance.

“We’re hearing from citizens of Vernon, Coldstream and Areas B and C and they wonder what the heck is going on,” said Wayne Lippert, Vernon mayor.

“They want it left alone. The service serves all of the citizens and it’s been working fine.”

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe doesn’t believe restructuring parks and recreation serves the public.

“Anyone I have spoken to supports the function and isn’t unhappy with the service,” she said.

O’Keefe isn’t convinced the conflict with Coldstream and the electoral areas can be resolved.

“It’s going to be quite a big challenge,” she said.

The city’s decision to support the status quo hasn’t gone over well with Coldstream council.

“It’s very disappointing to hear that. I thought we had some progress made,” said Coun. Maria Besso.

Coun. Pat Cochrane is also not impressed.

“We’ve just tried to get a little bit of control of our local parks. It should have been easy to do,” he said.

Another concern for Coldstream is that while Vernon could gain an additional vote after this year’s census, it is also the current maintenance contractor for parks.

“It’s like you’re in control and you get to collect money too,” said Mayor Jim Garlick.

Garlick says the situation with parks and recreation is similar to Vernon wanting to withdraw from Greater Vernon’s water distribution service.

“We are in negotiations because the city of Vernon has a problem with the water service and they believe they could do it better in house and more cost-effective. We have the same argument with parks,” he said.

Coldstream council has indicated it does not support changes to the current water utility.

“The utility has made great headway in addressing the requirements set out for it by the Interior Health Authority and needs to continue to do so,” said Garlick.

“This can be best achieved in its present form to benefit the entire area recognizing the resources everyone brought to the service when it was formed.”

Lippert says his council will look at the position being taken by Coldstream on water.

“That’s their decision but it’s a change in position. They’ve said before they would work together  to find a solution (to Vernon withdrawing),” he said.