North Westside furor continues

Director Wayne Carson raises concerns about federal gas tax funds

Frustration over governance continues to fester in the North Westside area.

On Monday, the Regional District of Central Okanagan board received a report outlining the use of federal gas tax funds in the electoral areas over the past nine years.

“I’m not a happy person,” said Wayne Carson, North Westside director.

“I got the distribution list two days before the meeting. I had asked for it in January.”

Carson asked that the report be deferred so he could review the contents, but he only got support from Patti Hanson, Central Okanagan East director.

“The Kelowna councillors shot it all to hell,” he said.

From 2006 to 2015 the Central Okanagan West electoral area, which includes the North Westside, has received $2.6 million in gas tax funds. About $1.6 million has been spent, another $174,723 is committed to projects and $1.3 million remains in reserve for future projects.

Carson objects to the 10 municipal board members determining where the money is spent in the two electoral areas.

“It should only be electoral area directors voting on this.”

About 75 per cent of the money has gone to three North Westside water utilities, but Carson says funds should also be directed to parks and recreation.

“I want to be more equitable with the funds.”

Carson says neither he or the community have any direct say over where money goes and the ultimate decision is left up to RDCO administration and the board.

“There’s a lack of true governance for the electoral area,” he said.

“I got 71 per cent of the vote (in the last election) but it means nothing to them. They operate on their own.”

Gail Givens, RDCO chairperson, defends the board’s involvement with gas tax funds.

“All budget items under the Local Government Act are voted on by the whole board,” she said.

“The director does get an opportunity to make recommendations. Some of the items recommended by the director were included.”

Carson and a citizens’ committee are pushing for a review to determine if other governance options are possible for the North Westside beyond the electoral area model.

“There is an opportunity for them to explore other governance options. It’s a process they need to go through,” said Givens.