Regional District of North Okanagan politicians demand changes to annexation process

Regional District of North Okanagan directors hope Ministry of Community Development will look at how annexations proceed

There’s pressure on the provincial government to maintain the viability of rural communities.

A study suggests several individual annexations into a municipality have a cumulative negative impact on the electoral area that has lost the land base.

“There’s some hope the Ministry of Community Development will look at how annexations proceed and it isn’t a piecemeal affair,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake director.

“That’s not to say  annexation won’t occur but they may occur with a little more planning.”

Besides Vernon, annexations from electoral areas are also possible in Lumby and Enderby.

A key concern about annexation is the loss of property reduces a jurisdiction’s tax base and the ability to provide services to residents.

It’s also been suggested that development on land annexed into a municipality can conflict with  rural  uses, while an electoral area’s voice is undermined at the regional district board.

“If you go by votes by population,  Vernon would end up with most of the votes,” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.

“It’s incumbent on the province to look at this (annexations). Other provinces have tighter regulations.”

Rick Fairbairn, rural Lumby director, believes electoral areas and municipalities need to consider possible annexations co-operatively before an application is sent to the ministry for consideration.

“We need to keep communications open and come up with a comprehensive plan,” he said.

There could be a second phase to the study which would include an evaluation of the financial, land use, service delivery and social impacts of Okanagan Landing being annexed into Vernon in 1993.

There would also be a financial accounting of cumulative annexation applications over the last 10 years for affected electoral areas, focusing on the key priority boundary areas;

“An area of interest which was not specifically identified in the original terms of reference is a detailed review of the Foothills neighbourhood,” said Anthony Kittel, RDNO regional growth strategy co-ordinator, in a memo.

The Foothills subdivision is in Vernon limits but surrounded by the BX.