I feel somewhat well positioned to weigh in on the amalgamation debate. My family has lived in the Greater Vernon area from the later part of the 19th century.
What is missing in this debate is the fact that Vernon has always been an urban area. In the past, one of the largest in the valley.
Vernon’s concept of civic living basically covers an area of three to four kilometres in radius centered on the town hall complex, and is wholly urban in nature. It needs business, metered parking and density to thrive. Coldstream and the other rural areas, including the Landing, when it was still in existence, are much more agrarian. Small business, farms, and orchards shape much of Coldstream. Density is almost a dirty word with the exception of the area near Kidston school.
So what happens when Vernon (urban) decides, with the acquiescence of a semi rural area, Okanagan Landing, to annex this additional rural land? Nothing good. Since we moved here in 2002, we have seen our taxes rise, an under-utilized, and by many accounts, a poorly engineered sewer system designed primarily for the private sector, little or no road maintenance, and close to zero police presence.
We used to have cheaper taxes based on our volunteer fire department, the pride of the Landing, but they were done away with by an in-camera vote.
A parcel tax was placed on residents in order to help support the waste water treatment plant when septic tanks in the Landing were serviced. When our tank was emptied, we were informed that the city wouldn’t take the septage and it would have to be trucked to Enderby at our cost. At present, tree roots from poorly kept city road allowances are undermining our main street, Kokanee Road. The only civic workers we see out here are the plows in winter and the water quality people.
Usually once a week, a crew is dispatched to the Eastside Road, near Smith Road, to flush the partially used sewer trunk line with treated water.
Because we live in the city, we are forbidden from hunting the deer that ruin our gardens. When many residents built fences to keep the deer out, they were informed that they would need a civic variance to keep them. Now there is talk about eliminating slash pick-up in the spring, but no thought of bringing back controlled burns. Slash in interface areas such as ours is fuel for wildfires.
Other things we have given up are free fireworks on Halloween paid for by our fire department volunteers and the scholarships and equipment that they provided to our school.
It’s up to you, but if you go for annexation get cast iron contracts enforceable in court.
It might cost you a bit now to maintain your lifestyle but it could cost you a lot more in the future.