Swan Lake annex sought by city

The City of Vernon wants to work with the neighbours to expand its boundary

The City of Vernon wants to work with the neighbours to expand its boundary.

During a strategic planning session Monday, council members indicated that there needs to be discussions with the Regional District of North Okanagan about bringing the Swan Lake corridor into the city.

“There is land in that area that could be used for industrial development and there is commercial growth but a lack of sewer is holding that up,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.

Lord insists that any access to sewer should require properties in the corridor to join Vernon.

“Why would we extend services without them coming in and contributing to the tax base?” she said.

However, BX-Swan Lake director Bob Fleming isn’t sure annexation is necessary.

“My plans and their plans for the area may or may not merge but it’s worth having those discussions,” he said.

Beyond joining the city, Fleming says other options potentially exist for sewer, including a service agreement with the city such as the one that exists between Coldstream and Vernon.

“That area is important to our tax base,” said Fleming of the Swan Lake corridor.

“It represents 22 per cent of our total tax base in Areas B and C and 35 per cent of the tax requisition for fire protection. It won’t be transferred to the city without compensation.”

Lord is aware of the potential tax loss that would face Areas B and C if the corridor is annexed.

“There are some options we could consider. Perhaps there can be a compromise,” she said without providing any details.

“It’s a win-win for everyone if that area gets developed.”

Fleming also admits there is a lack of serviced industrial land in the North Okanagan and that is negatively impacting the region’s economy.

“It’s in everyone’s interest to try and address that situation.”