Merging Greater Vernon jurisdictions could create efficiencies, but the mayor isn’t willing to open old wounds.
The consultant overseeing the city’s core services review has put forward a number of suggestions for reducing costs and improving services, including amalgamating Vernon, Coldstream and the electoral areas.
“It’s an issue that’s stirred up controversy in the past and there is great hesitancy on the part of this mayor and council to promote it,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.
“We have been working to repair the level of dysfunction brought about by previous attempts to promote amalgamation.”
Sawatzky believes efficiencies in providing services can be created by co-operating with neighbouring jurisdictions.
Coun. Patrick Nicol also isn’t convinced amalgamation is something the city should initiate.
“It’s a citizen-driven decision. No one part of Greater Vernon dictates that,” he said.
In terms of governance and generating efficiencies, the consultant says the options are amalgamation of at least the urban areas, shifting services like recreation to one jurisdiction so there are not shared authorities or defining how split functions work.
“The best way is likely difficult to achieve if not impossible,” said Brina Bourns, KPMG senior manager, of amalgamation.
KPMG has also presented other concepts for city council to consider as part of the core review.
They include discharging some reclaimed effluent to Okanagan Lake, increasing transit fares, contracting out fire dispatch, reducing community development staff, turning economic development and tourism over to the regional district and developing a strategy for disposing of surplus land holdings.
A public workshop on the core review was held Tuesday, and Coun. Catherine Lord admits KPMG’s suggestions will require further council consideration.
“There are a lot of public expectations around the results of this core review,” she said.