North Westside residents are asking the RDCO to support their grant application for a second governance study. (File)

North Westside residents ask for study to determine if they should stay in regional district

The study will determine if the area should be its own municipality or stay within the RDCO

Residents of the North Westside want another governance study, and they’re asking the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) to support their application for a restructure planning grant to do just that.

The first governance study for the area was approved in 2017, it received a $20,000 grant from the province and concluded in early 2018.

But during the RDCO board meeting on Monday, June 22, North Westside Communities Association representative Callie Simpson said the 2017-2018 study wasn’t what they hoped for.

“Our communities have been requesting a governance study since 2016. We did, in fact, receive funding for a detailed diagnostic review but somewhere along the line, that was changed to a services and issues review,” Simpson said in a presentation to the board.

The services and issues study pointed out a lack of trust, affected the working relationship between the North Westside communities and the RDCO. The study found misinformation is prevalent within the community, community members consistently felt like their interests weren’t represented by the RDCO board or staff, and community members felt service costs were too high but there was no information on how to move forward with governance or restructuring.

Simpson said the community wants to know what will be better for them: to be incorporated and become their own form of government or to stay in their current situation, which sees the RDCO as their only form of local government.

“We’re unable to make a decision on what our future may look like without a detailed diagnostic review of the risks and the opportunities for change,” she said.

She said what the community is asking now, is for the RDCO’s board of directors to support the community’s application for a grant so a detailed governance review can be done.

“This restructure planning grant will fund the impartial technical analysis of the net cost impacts of an alternate governance structure versus the current form of government. Our residents want to see comparative and potential impacts on our property taxes, our service and delivery costs, water systems, fire services, road construction and maintenance, land use planning, bylaw services, parks, recreation and solid waste management,” Simpson said.

The board voted to receive the presentation and have asked staff to bring back the 2018 report so members can look it over. The board will make a decision on the next steps regarding the grant application in another meeting.

The request from the residents of the North Westside comes after the suspension of fire chief Jason Satterthwaite and Lt. Rob Gajda. The cause for the suspension is not known. However, the indefinate suspension saw six paid-on-call firefighters walkoff the job forcing the RDCO to have Killiney Beach’s Cpt. Graeme Headley and Short’s Creek Cpt. Shawn Barnes step up in acting deputy chief roles so the department can provide the same level of service in the community.

READ: North Westside firefighters replaced after protesting suspension of chief, deputy

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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