Vernon refutes power trip claim

City of Vernon denies it will be a bully if it gains another vote on parks and recreation issues in the North Okanagan

The City of Vernon denies it will be a bully if it gains another vote on parks and recreation issues.

Governance continues to remain a stumbling block in resolving the dispute over Greater Vernon’s parks and recreation function. Coldstream and the electoral areas are concerned the city will dominate if the 2011 census leads to expanded voting strength.

However, Vernon Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe says that while the city favours representation-by-population, that doesn’t mean co-operation would end.

“I don’t believe Vernon would vote negatively to punish the outlying areas,” she said during a service review meeting Monday.

“I’ve seen more block voting from the other areas voting against Vernon than the other way around.”

O’Keefe added that politicians wouldn’t impede service levels no matter the jurisdiction because they are used by all Greater Vernon residents.

“All citizens want more in parks. Kids play from one park to the other.”

Representatives from Coldstream, though, suggest Vernon could do whatever it wants if the city gains another vote.

“We want to give our taxpayers a say if we’re spending a certain amount on a service,” said Coun. Maria Besso.

A similar view is held by Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.

“The other participants won’t have a meaningful say if Vernon votes as a block,” he said.

“That abdication is a big problem if I represent Area C.”

Mike Gavinchuk, BX-Swan Lake director, says that if Vernon gets another vote, two-thirds support among participants should be required to pass something.

“I want Area B to have input on service levels. I don’t want Vernon to have total control and just say, ‘Dance to our tune,’” he said.

There was considerable discussion about what assets should remain regional in scope and which should be considered local and operated by individual jurisdictions.

“Operating costs may stay the same but right now, you have others (jurisdictions) chipping into the hat,” said Trafford Hall, Regional District of North Okanagan administrator, who facilitated the session.

“For a lot of them, there’s not a lot of latitude. It’s a skating rink and it has to be cleaned. Just because it’s close to you or your people use it doesn’t mean it’s better if you take it over.”

The function participants remain divided, and Gavinchuk finds the situation frustrating.

 

“People don’t want to get along. It’s all about personalities and that’s wrong,” he said.