Study examines annexation

A rural perspective on expanding municipal boundaries is moving ahead.

A rural perspective on expanding municipal boundaries is moving ahead.

The Regional District of North Okanagan board has agreed to spend $25,000 on a consultant to conduct an electoral area annexation impact study.

“This is the first one from the electoral area side,” said Rob Smailes, planning and building general manager.

Traditionally, studies have considered the implications for rural residents if they are annexed into an adjacent municipality, but not the impact on the remaining electoral area.

“This study will look at the impact of service delivery for the regional district and what’s left on the other side of the fence when a property is annexed.”

Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director, believes the study is essential.

“There is a cost for municipalities from annexation but there’s also a cost for electoral areas because it loses its tax base for services,” he said of functions such as fire protection.

Phase one will consider municipal annexation policies, services provided by RDNO, services provided by other agencies, property taxes, local political representation and land use planning.

Future possible phases could look at specific cases of annexation such as Okanagan Landing in Vernon in 1993.

The one thing the current process will not lead to is any changes in governance structure.

“It’s not going to the public to say, ‘Do you want to incorporate with the cities?’” said Macnabb.

The electoral areas adjacent to municipalities are BX-Swan Lake, BX-Silver Star, rural Lumby and rural Enderby. The other electoral area in RDNO is Cherryville.