Governance fight flares up

A Greater Vernon jurisdiction is being accused of playing games at the expense of residents.

The City of Vernon has been asked by the District of Coldstream to consider re-establishing the former commission model where Greater Vernon participants had delegated authority to deal directly with parks, recreation, culture and water.

“The focus from Coldstream should be the college property,” said Vernon Coun. Patrick Nicol of plans for a sports complex.

“Hundreds of things pass unanimously (at the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee) for the benefit of all Greater Vernon and the focus is off base on this.”

Coldstream has suggested that a commission be initiated to administer water, parks, recreation, culture, the Performing Arts Centre and Wesbild Centre.

The commission had delegated authority, which meant that it could make decisions on some matters without going to the North Okanagan Regional District board.

“It’s just like deja vu,” said Mary-Jo O’Keefe, a Vernon councillor, of Coldstream’s proposal.

The commission was disbanded in 2006 and it was replaced by an advisory committee, which can only make recommendations to the NORD board.

“Coldstream and Areas B and C voted to get rid of this,” said Lippert of the commission.

Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick isn’t sure what a sports complex next to the college has to do with governance.

“The college is one single issue and the bigger picture is the foundation we follow at NORD,” he said.

“They (city) have said a commission should be brought back. We could be in a better place with this model.”

Garlick doesn’t believe sufficient information was available when NORD directors voted to disband the commission.

“Knowing more, it wasn’t the right decision to repeal it,” he said.

Lippert is going to Victoria May 5 to meet with Ida Chong about reviews of regional district services such as parks and recreation.

“This has been bouncing back and forth,” said Lippert.

“The province needs to put a timeline on these things. Some of the reviews have been going on for five years.”

Garlick agrees with Lippert’s concerns.

“The legislation is incomplete and there are lots of holes. Something has to be done about it,” he said.