There’s been a dramatic shift in Vernon’s approach to an economic engine.
While previous politicians insisted they needed a voice at the table, current council unanimously voted Monday to pull out of the Regional District of North Okanagan’s Silver Star planning function.
“It doesn’t make sense to be involved there. It’s a different jurisdiction,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.
The function is responsible for development permits, official community plan amendments, rezonings and neighbourhood plan reviews. Much of the current development is renovations and additions.
Former city officials always stated they needed to ensure Silver Star’s role in the local economy continued to move forward, but Sawatzky isn’t convinced.
“The potential for useful interaction and outcomes didn’t match the investment,” he said of the city’s $75,000 contribution over three years.
Council’s decision is largely fuelled by wanting to reduce spending.
“There are lots of uses for $75,000 over three years,” said Sawatzky.
Coun. Bob Spiers supports withdrawing from the function.
“I don’t know what was accomplished by it. What did city taxpayers get out of it?” he said.
To keep the function running, the city provided $27,362 a year, while $11,008 came from the five electoral areas and $3,130 from Spallumcheen.
Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director, isn’t concerned the city’s departure will negatively impact the function’s ability to operate as development is slow.
“There will be more taxation (for remaining jurisdictions) to continue the service but it’s not very large. It’s business as usual,” he said.
Macnabb isn’t surprised that Vernon doesn’t see any value to the function.
“When Silver Star first started and there was a lot of building going on, everyone had a vested interest. But now that it has matured, not so much,” he sad.
“It’s still an economic driver but Vernon also now has Predator Ridge, the Rise and Sparkling Hill.”
All other municipalities besides Vernon and Spallumcheen have left the function over the years.