Vernon seeks ceasefire to talks

There are efforts to stall Greater Vernon’s parks feud until residents head off to the polls this fall.

There are efforts to stall Greater Vernon’s parks feud until residents head off to the polls this fall.

City representatives insist discussions over the parks and recreation structure should cease until after the Nov. 19 civic elections because new politicians may wind up at the table and opinions may shift.

“There is an election this fall and the elected officials of the day will take the discussions further,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert.

“We’re so close to election time, there’s not enough time to get things sorted out.”

However, that suggestion hasn’t gone over well with the other participants in the function.

“If we wait until after the election, we abdicate all of our responsibilities,” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.

“We have a duty around this table to do something so why aren’t we doing it?”

Gyula Kiss, a Coldstream councillor, says any new elected individuals will need time to understand how local government works and they won’t be aware of the complexities surrounding the parks service.

“They won’t be able to debate intelligently until they know what the issues are,” he said.

The other jurisdictions are upset that Vernon council has rallied behind the current structure and is opposed to any parks being turned over to individual jurisdictions for management.

“It really closes the door on any negotiations,” said Macnabb.

“I don’t want to waste any further time at meetings if this isn’t going anywhere.”

Kiss blames the city for the current impasse.

“For nine or 11 months there were reasonable negotiations and then we went to the recreation complex in November (for a meeting) and everything fell apart,” he said.

Part of the conflict revolves around Vernon possibly acquiring another vote on parks and recreation issues based on the 2011 census.

“If the city gets an extra vote, we can’t change anything,” said Kiss.

“If it’s an important issue, Vernon votes in a block.”

Macnabb defends the need for 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.

“You (Lippert) live in Area C and I am trying to  get this organized on your behalf.”

Patrick Nicol, a Vernon councillor, denies the city acts as a single block.

“There is no pre-arranged vote,” he said.

“The parks board has been a place where reason has prevailed.”

Lippert says the other jurisdictions are focusing too much on the possibility of an extra vote.

“We don’t know what the census will do. Why worry about something that may not happen?” he said.

Mike Gavinchuk, BX-Swan Lake director, is frustrated and says there appears to be no end to the ongoing conflict.

“We’re creating a situation that isn’t a problem,” he said.