Regional district remains busy

Patrick Nicol insists that staff at the RDNO office are meeting the needs of residents from Cherryville to Vernon and BX to Mara.

Governments are frequently maligned but the Regional District of North Okanagan chairperson is convinced the public is being served locally.

Patrick Nicol insists that staff at the RDNO office are meeting the needs of residents from Cherryville to Vernon and BX to Mara.

“Lots of files are moving forward — the parks review, the sports track, the master water plan is awaiting approval and the building inspection process is moving forward,” he said.

“There is a lot of work that goes on with co-operation with all of the jurisdictions.”

A major focus for 2014 will be water, whether it is for consumption or for recreational activities.

“We won’t be able to manufacture water,” said Nicol of the precious resource and the need for provincial government to provide communities with the tools to ensure quality and quantity are addressed.

There is also growing pressure to provide access to the local lakes.

“Seventy per cent of the population has some form of watercraft and with the visitors that come here, there is the same rationale,” said Nicol.

In the rural Enderby area, concern over water is focused on potential flooding and specifically Ashton Creek.

RDNO has demanded that the provincial government take action to mitigate flooding.

“The solutions aren’t easy but it’s one of the issues we work tenaciously on,” said Nicol.

Another focus continues to be provincial meat regulations and the goal of North Okanagan farmers being able to slaughter meat for sale at the gate.

“People want their food grown locally and they want access to it,” said Nicol, adding that resolving the meat regulations is critical to economic development and the health of rural communities.

Nicol is convinced that RDNO’s role is not to try and do everything itself, but to facilitate community-based initiatives.

As an example, the regional district provided support in Cherryville for the development of an outdoor ice rink and installation of high-speed Internet.

“Community life is vibrant and we need to support that,” said Nicol, adding that the regional district also provides scholarships to 4-H members as a way of promoting agriculture and education.

To determine whether it is fulfilling the interests of residents, the regional district frequently conducts surveys and the most recent one revolved around landfills.

A common theme in the survey was public concern about the Highway 97 entrance to the Greater Vernon landfill and the risk to motorists.

RDNO has suggested a one-way bridge across the highway that would allow traffic on Birnie Road to re-enter the highway and head north. The Ministry of Transportation has opposed that concept, but lobbying will continue.