Regional focus a priority for RDNO chair

Patrick Nicol is preparing to reignite interest in the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Patrick Nicol is preparing to reignite interest in the Regional District of North Okanagan.

The veteran Vernon politician was recently elected board chairperson and he says a priority for 2012 will be bringing RDNO’s diverse communities together.

“I believe in the regional district and all of its partners contributing towards the well-being of the regional district,” he said.

“It means co-operation and financial accountability. The message is we’re all in this together.”

The member jurisdictions include six municipalities and five electoral areas. Geographically, the region covers from Coldstream to Mara and from east of Cherryville to the west side of Okanagan Lake.

“I’m going to visit these places,” said Nicol.

“I will see the directors first and I have told staff if they want me to go anywhere, I will do that on behalf of the regional district.”

Nicol believes there is a need to increase RDNO’s profile and reacquaint residents with what the district means to them.

“It means having a great website and we have asked staff for a review of that to ensure we’re serving people the best way we can,” he said.

RDNO provides numerous services and it varies depending on community and neighbourhood. Among them is landfills, recycling, regional growth planning, parks and recreation for Greater Vernon and Lumby and water utilities in Greater Vernon, Mabel Lake, Silver Star, Whitevale and Grindrod.

Significant attention has been directed towards Greater Vernon parks and recreation in the past year as the participants have had differences of opinion. However, Nicol sees the conflict coming to an end.

“There will be ideas offered in the past that will find success at the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee and it will happen sooner than later,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean there won’t be some things that are a challenge that we have to overcome, but we will do that.”

Nicol is particularly enthusiastic about a proposed sports complex next to Okanagan College in Coldstream.

“With the college land, we have a better solution than five years ago,” he said of a previous attempt for a facility on Aberdeen Road.

Besides Greater Vernon, the need to address ailing sports infrastructure is on the agenda in Lumby.

“It will always be a priority to plan for the future,” said Nicol.

Part of 2012 will be focused on implementing the regional growth strategy, which was adopted in September.

“People have worked hard on it. In this term, we’ll see some direction,” said Nicol.

The process leading up to the strategy began in 2007 and among the issues identified in the document are rural lifestyles, agriculture, economic development, transportation, housing and energy.



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