Victoria will not dictate the future of Greater Vernon.
Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, says he is watching a pro-amalgamation campaign closely, but he says the provincial government has a limited role in the process.
“We as a government, under legislation, cannot force amalgamation on an incorporated municipality,” he said.
“We do not force amalgamation on anyone.”
The citizen-based Society for the Future Governance of Greater Vernon is circulating a petition that asks local and provincial authorities to develop a plan to combine Vernon, Coldstream and Areas B and C into a single entity.
Foster says any calls for a governance restructuring study or a referendum must come from the communities themselves.
“If the proponents of the petition get a large number of names, it will be up to local government to say to the province they want a study,” he said.
If officials from Vernon, Coldstream and the electoral areas refuse, Foster believes the society will have to consider its options.
“The proponents would have to look at the next civic election (November 2014) and decide what to do. Do you run pro-amalgamation candidates?” he said.
The petition was launched Sept. 8, and while he has had discussions with the society, Foster hasn’t been approached by residents on the topic.
“I have heard almost nothing. I’m surprised because I thought I’d hear something,” he said.
“I thought I would see a lot of letters to the editor in the paper or e-mails to my office. There doesn’t seem to be the interest I expected.”
Foster would not speculate on why he has not been contacted by residents on possible amalgamation.
There has been limited discussions with local politicians.
“They aren’t making much comment. They just want to know what the process would be if this goes forward,” he said.