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Should Westside join North Okanagan? Directors discuss possibility

A 2022 governance study recommended looking into the possibility of transferring the community from the Central Okanagan
The Regional District of North Okanagan directors will discuss the possibility of transferring the community of the North Westside from the Regional District of Central Okanagan to its own boundaries Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. ( photo)

Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) directors are set to discuss the possibility of adding the North Westside to its boundaries — an idea residents have expressed interest in.

The North Westside is located in the northern section of the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO), spanning from Westshore Estates, Killiney Beach, Upper Fintry, Fintry and La Casa, and extending south to Caesar’s Landing.

Last year, the RDCO was presented with the North Westside Governance and Services Study, which gathered North Westside residents’ opinions on their governance through four open houses.

The results of the public engagement showed that 63 per cent of respondents disagreed that they currently receive a sufficient range of services from the RDCO, 73 per cent said they do not receive good value for the taxes paid and 63 per cent indicated they don’t receive sufficient information about local services and service costs from the RDCO. Services with the lowest satisfaction rating were fire protection, water, Electoral Area planning, regional rescue and emergency planning, administration and bylaw enforcement.

The survey also found that 80 per cent of respondents feel Kelowna “has the ability to control the outcome of weighed votes,” overshadowing their concerns. When it comes to North Westside’s local interests, 87 per cents said they are not well-represented in the RDCO decision-making process.

Only 54 per cent expressed a connection to other Central Okanagan communities, and 37 per cent expressed no such connection.

North Westside residents also voiced a desire to consider being incorporated into the RDNO. The written submissions revealed “a desire to examine and understand the potential benefits associated with a transfer to the RDNO,” given that the North Okanagan has several electoral areas and relatively small municipalities, and does not have one jurisdiction as dominant as Kelowna.

In the study’s list of options to consider, one option is to change the regional district boundaries so that the RDCO boundary excludes the North Westside. Under this scenario, the community would join the RDNO either as a separate electoral area or as part of an existing RDNO electoral area. The study notes that it is currently impossible, “prior to a new study being undertaken, to fully understand the implications of a regional district boundary change for the North Westside communities.

“It is not unreasonable to assume, however, that such a change could help to address the views expressed during the current study about the distribution of decision-making power at the RDCO, and the sense of connection between the North Westside and communities in the RDNO.”

The study recommends that the RDCO collaborate with the RDNO and the province to create a further study exploring the services, governance and financial implications of transferring the North Westside to the RDNO.

The RDNO board of directors is discussing the study and the future of North Westside governance at its meeting today (Jan. 18). Staff are running with the governance study’s recommendation, advising that a report be drafted “regarding the impact of the North Westside joining the Regional District of North Okanagan on existing services and the feasibility of providing services to the North Westside.”

Last month, RDCO chair Loyal Woolridge sent a letter to RDNO chair Kevin Acton asking for his perspective on restructuring the regional district boundaries.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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