Chamber backs vote on governance

Chamber of commerce president makes the case for amalgamation

A typical day for me starts off with a glass of water supplied by the Regional District of the North Okanagan (and returned to the RDNO a day later).

Then I leave my home in the City of Vernon to drive along the newly paved roads of RDNO’s Area C to drop my daughter, Isla, off at a wonderful daycare. The sort of rural daycare that could only be found in the regional district.

After that, I travel to my office in the City of Vernon to work with my clients — businesses from across the North Okanagan.

If I’m lucky, I’ll spend a very pleasant evening with Isla and my wife at the beautiful Kal Beach in Coldstream.

These common and connected activities are enabled by three different local governments and three different costly administrations.

Every day, I depend on the roads, parks and other facilities of these three local governments.  These are generally paid for by the property taxes of their residents. In some cases, they are paid through a costly, convoluted and often contentious cost-sharing scheme between the areas.

But I only pay property taxes to the City of Vernon.

The City of Vernon was incorporated in 1892 and the District of Coldstream in 1906. Back then, there were few motor cars to allow a five-minute commute between the two.

People generally worked, played and lived in one municipality.

People drew their water from one municipality and disposed of their waste in one municipality.

Even the Grey Canal, which allowed farming in our united region to flourish, had yet to be built.

One hundred years ago, the geographical administrative boundaries made sense.

That was a long time ago.

They don’t make sense any more. Now, decisions made by the City of Vernon can be of huge importance to the residents of Coldstream. And vice-versa.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce was incorporated in 1961, 52 years ago. The business leaders of that time recognized that, even in 1961, the businesses and people of these municipalities and areas were heavily co-dependent.

The municipal boundaries were no longer appropriate for effective governance and administration.

Sensibly, the chamber encompasses Vernon, Coldstream and Areas B and C. The business community was able to make this decision.

Much has changed since 1892. We residents of these municipalities and areas now live, work and play together. We should be allowed to decide if we want to be governed together.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce supports calls for a referendum on the unification of the District of Coldstream, Areas B and C and the City of Vernon.

 

Adrian Johnson, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce president