It’s increasingly obvious that the conflict between Vernon and its neighbours will play a role in the campaign leading up to Nov. 19’s election.
The relationship, or the lack thereof, was mentioned several times during the first forum Thursday, and it has previously been raised in media interviews, particularly by Patrick Davies and Rob Sawatzky who are challenging incumbent Wayne Lippert for the mayor’s job.
Some members of current council have tried to portray the city as the innocent party in the dispute and it’s been Coldstream and the Regional District of North Okanagan who have been stirring the pot. While obviously the other jurisdictions have performed less than admirably, Vernon cannot claim to be the complete victim.
It was the city that decided to leave water distribution. Its position on parks and recreation governance has bounced around more than a volleyball in play. Vernon’s withdrawal from fire dispatch forced RDNO to consider its service options.
Yes Vernon has the largest population and is the biggest contributor to functions, but funds from the other jurisdictions means city taxpayers don’t have to pay the full shot.
Some candidates have also been right to point out that Vernon’s economic development strategy depends on the other communities because they have the land base for industry.
It is time for Lippert and the other council members seeking re-election to be transparent about their relationship with the other communities, and reveal a willingness to show some flexibility. If they don’t the issue will only become bigger as the campaign marches towards Nov. 19.
—The Morning Star