MLA welcomes petition results

Civic leaders are being urged not to dismiss public interest in Greater Vernon governance.

Civic leaders are being urged not to dismiss public interest in Greater Vernon governance.

A petition organized by the Greater Vernon Governance Society has collected 2,930 signatures asking local and provincial authorities to develop a plan to combine area jurisdictions into a single entity.

“The numbers warrant a good look by everyone,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.

“I’m glad that enough people are interested to see what the next steps are. That’s quite a few signatures.”

Of the 2,930 names, 2,032 are from Vernon, 611 from Coldstream and 287 from the two electoral areas. There are 31,693 total voters in Vernon,  7,424 in Coldstream and 5,550 in Areas B and C.

However, the society has based its figures on how many people voted in 2011 civic elections.

Using that formula,  the number of signatures compared to the election turnout is 25.3 per cent in Coldstream, 22.9 per cent in Vernon and 23.7 in the electoral areas (no 2011 election so based on 2013 referendum results).

The turnout for April’s sports complex referendum was 19.5 per cent.

The society will now consult with the local jurisdictions and it would be up to the regional district and the two municipalities to ask the provincial government to initiate a restructuring study. Such a study — which would look at the pros and cons of amalgamation — could possibly lead to a referendum.

Premier Christy Clark recently stated the government would not impose a structure on Greater Vernon, and Foster isn’t sure if there is a role for Victoria to encourage the jurisdictions to seek a study.

“I don’t know other than to say that these aren’t insignificant numbers,” he said.

“It’s up to them (jurisdictions). We try not to interfere in these things.”