An ongoing issue for the Regional District of North Okanagan is to let residents know about the scope of services they receive.
RDNO covers from east of Cherryville to the west side of Okanagan Lake and from Cosens Bay to half-way up Mara Lake.
“It’s not one size fits all,” said chairperson Rick Fairbairn of the services the regional district provides to communities and individual neighbourhoods. “It’s accommodating what each jurisdiction wants.”
Because Greater Vernon has the largest population base, much of RDNO’s focus appears to be there, whether it’s water, culture or recreation.
However, the regional district also operates water systems at Kingfisher and Mabel Lake and funds fire protection in BX-Swan Lake, rural Lumby and rural Enderby. It is responsible for solid waste management (landfills) in the entire region and staff handle land use planning in the electoral areas, as well as in the smaller municipalities under contract.
The goal is to try and meet the needs of residents.
“The Gunter Ellison water service (next to Enderby) is not huge but for those 11 properties, it’s important,” said David Sewell, RDNO chief administrative officer.
Co-operation among the member jurisdictions — five electoral areas and six municipalities — is important.
“We have a role and local jurisdictions have a role. We work collaboratively to understand who is doing what,” said Sewell.
A primary focus in 2015 will be the regional growth strategy and ensuring land use practises are sustainable for the long-term in a growing region.
“What ever impacts one jurisdiction, there is spill-over into other jurisdictions,” said Fairbairn of the need to work together on issues like land use planning and transportation.
The regional growth strategy is also a key part of the region’s economic development strategy, such as determining where industry can be located.
Elected officials and staff will also be busy in the new year working on Greater Vernon’s master water plan after a majority of voters defeated borrowing $70 million for water system upgrades in November.
“We will have to determine how to deal with the Interior Health Authority,” said Fairbairn.
RDNO will also be wrapping up a review of services, including building inspection. Reviews have dominated the agenda for the last few years as officials wanted to determine if services were viable and meeting jurisdictions’ needs.
“We want to get back to focusing on service provision and delivering the best services possible to the public,” said Sewell.