Rural annexation study seeking financial support

Funding sources are still being sought for a review of North Okanagan rural areas joining municipalities.

Funding sources are still being sought for a review of rural areas joining municipalities.

The Electoral Area Advisory Committee is still pursuing partners for the $100,000 to $120,000 phase two of its annexation impact study.

“We’re trying to get the province onside because its policies have created the  problem,” said Rick Fairbairn, EAAC chairperson, of rural areas being annexed into municipalities one property at a time.

The Ministry of Community Development can provide grants to communities wanting to study the implications of restructuring governance, while the ministry could also be petitioned directly for funds.

Other regional districts in B.C. are also being asked to participate as the study outcome could have implications across the province.

“We’re going to give it more time for interest to come back. There has been some legitimate response coming in,” said Fairbairn.

Phase one of the study suggested several individual annexations into a municipality have a cumulative negative impact on the electoral area that has lost land.

A key concern is the electoral area has a reduced tax base and the ability to provide services.

It’s also been suggested development on land annexed into a municipality can conflict with  rural  uses, while an electoral area has a reduced voice at the Regional District of North Okanagan.

RDNO could also use development services reserves for the phase two study, and Fairbairn believes local municipalities could also contribute.

“By annexing properties, there is a cost for them,” said Fairbairn of municipalities being responsible for services like roads and sewer.

RDNO staff has encouraged the EAAC directors to consider a variety of funding options.

“The electoral area annexation impact study is a unique project and does not meet the criteria of most planning grants that are available,” said Anthony Kittel, regional growth strategy co-ordinator, in a report.

“Therefore, external sources of funding are limited and therefore direct petition for funding at the regional district or provincial government level is recommended.”