Greater Vernon politicians continue to squabble over voting structure on parks, recreation and culture.
Tempers flared Wednesday as a bulk of North Okanagan Regional District directors voted to amend the bylaw that established the parks and recreation function so it states that the largest jurisdiction has the same number of votes as all of the other participants combined when at the regional district board table.
“We’re just asking for an equal number of votes. Nobody is asking for power or control,” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.
There has been a concern among the electoral area and Coldstream directors that Vernon could gain another vote if its population increases during the next census.
“We could be outvoted for everything and nobody wants to be part of that marriage,” said Macnabb.
Jim Garlick, Coldstream director, believes the proposal maintains the status quo and the “balance of power.”
“This is an attempt to keep the parks function together. This is an attempt to start working together in the framework we have,” he said.
The function’s participating jurisdictions will now be asked for input on the proposal. However, opposition came from all three Vernon representatives, who insist proper process was not followed.
“The participants should have had a discussion first about the fundamental structure of their service and then they could make a decision. It would have then come to the (NORD) board for ratification,” said director Buffy Baumbrough.
Director Wayne Lippert believes this could set a precedent for future interference in functions.
“I could ask for a motion to change the voting structure of the Lumby parks service,” he said.
“Director Macnabb is doing this as an end run around a service review they don’t want to finish.”
Lippert says one-director, one vote, goes against representation by population.
“It’s how we as a democracy works,” he said.
Lippert and Garlick squared off when Lippert pointed out that the city has three votes at the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee table but Coldstream has two and the electoral areas have one each.
“Vernon can be outvoted and history shows Vernon often doesn’t vote as a block,” said Lippert.
That led to Garlick saying that the “committee is nothing” in relation to the main NORD board.
“If the committee doesn’t mean anything, let’s not hold any other meetings. It sure the hell means something,” Lippert fired back.