Vernon gains additional vote at RDNO

City of Vernon to obtain fourth seat at Regional District of North Okanagan based on 2011 census figures...

A potential source of conflict in Greater Vernon is now reality.

The City of Vernon will acquire a fourth seat at the Regional District of North Okanagan based on 2011 census figures.

“I’m hoping with new people at the table, there won’t be a problem but time will tell,” said Gyula Kiss, a Coldstream director, referring to new city politicians elected in November.

Part of the conflict over the parks and recreation function has been linked to Vernon possibly acquiring another vote because of increased population.

On Tuesday, Statistics Canada released 2001 census results and Vernon’s population is 38,150, a six per cent increase from 35,979 in 2006.

“Based upon the census data, Vernon would be eligible for another director at the regional district board,” said David Sewell, RDNO’s finance general manager.

“An additional director for Vernon would occur at any population figure above 37,500.”

Kiss has previously expressed concern that with four votes, Vernon could dominate discussions with its partners.

A similar view has also come from director Mike Macnabb, who wants a balance of power at the table.

“If we (Coldstream and the electoral areas) are going to pay 35 per cent of the total budget, we want some meaningful say,” he said in an August interview.

Jim Garlick, Coldstream’s mayor, says an unequal situation could occur if Vernon gets an extra vote.

“They will not only be the contract provider but they will have the majority vote,” he said.

“It’s a very large budget for the service and it involves land outside of Vernon. There needs to be awareness of the impact outside of Vernon.”

However, director Rob Sawatzky, who was elected Vernon’s mayor in November, doesn’t believe an additional seat will be a problem.

“I don’t see this changing much of anything,” he said, adding that city directors don’t always vote together. “You represent the city but there are divergent opinions and we have to work with our neighbours.”

Sawatzky points out that the parks and recreation function is there to serve all jurisdictions.

“Our intent is to work co-operatively for the benefit of everyone,” he said.

“We’ve seen what happens on the other side (conflict).”