ELECTORAL AREA GOVERNACE
16-11-25 – Update on the journey for an RDCO Board Resolution of Support for a Governance Study for the North Westside area:
16-11-15 – The links above and the wayne.carson.ca Blog contain the chronology on the path the North Westside Community has taken to get their request for RDCO Board support for a Governance Study. The Board has asked and been granted a Q&A Session with senior Ministry Staff to address any concerns Board Members may have with the process and implications of a Governance Study of the North Westside Fire Protection District. This Q&A Session is scheduled for Monday November 28 2016 @ 7:00pm in the Woodhaven Board Room at the RDCO Offices, 1450 KLO Road Kelowna BC. The Public is welcome for this discussion. After the Q&A I intend to put forward a Motion for Support for the Governance Study for the North Westside and a request that the RDCO Staff prepare an application for funding to the Ministry of Community, Sport & Culture for that Governance Study.
Request for RDCO Board Resolution
16-07-25 – This is the Draft Resolution intended to be presented to the RDCO Board at the upcoming August 22 2016 Regular Board Meeting.
- THAT the Board resolve to support a governance study for the North Westside Fire Protection District an area within the Central Okanagan West Electoral Area of the RDCO;
- AND THAT the RDCO Board request a meeting for the Regional Director with the Hon. Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development during the 2016 UBCM Convention to explain the Regional District’s intentions and to request a Planning Grant to help defray the cost of the study;
- AND THAT the RDCO Board approve the proposed Terms of Reference for the Governance Study entitled: Preliminary Study and Analysis of Community Governance Issues in the North Westside Fire Protection District subject to any amendments required or suggested by the Ministry;
- AND THAT, subject to receiving support from the Ministry, staff be directed to develop a work plan for the study, including budget, timeline, and a request for proposal for the Board’s consideration and approval.
The question of governance in the North Westside community has been important to area residents dating back
to 2007 when Central Okanagan West first came into existence. Over the past decade, it has become apparent that representation over the local services, planning functions and taxes has left the electoral area with no autonomy in regards to the representation of these services and their levels on the RDCO Board. Unfortunately the unincorporated areas of Okanagan Westside did not participate in the West Kelowna incorporation process so no consideration was given to governance for what remained after that population block left regional district autonomy. That was an oversight by the Board and RDCO Administration of the day as this action has dramatically and negatively affected the ability of the electoral areas to make their voices heard. This electoral area represents <.5% of the population and faces a much slower growth rate from our regional municipal partners.
Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development and the local MLA representative have both been contacted by the EA Director on the topic of a governance study to cover the North Westside Fire Protection District area. Both Area Directors have indicated that it would be more appropriate to examine governance issues for the broader area and involve all communities within the electoral areas; this would also give an area population of around 5700 people which might be more viable than smaller incorporations within the EA. To date there has been no significant community activity in the EA’s with the exception of the North Westside District where two well attended Town Hall meetings have taken place, numerous Governance Committee Meetings, NWCA Executive and AGM’s, and a petition with in excess of 550 resident signatures requesting a Provincially Funded Governance Study. The North Westside presents a significantly higher degree of community than that of other sub division collectives within the unincorporated areas of RDCO.
The purpose of this report is to recommend that the RDCO Board undertake a governance study of the proposed area; the North Westside Fire Protection District and support the draft terms of reference that have been developed to guide the study process. The governance study is not to be confused with a full blown incorporation study. A governance study will provide a preliminary analysis of governance systems and will not include detailed technical or financial information on the impact of municipal incorporation. A Local Governance Study Committee, after the conclusion of the governance analysis, will recommend whether a more comprehensive incorporation study is warranted or whether the RDCO Board might want to consider other governance reforms.
When West Kelowna incorporated in 2007 the residents of what was left of the Westside Electoral Areas went from three representatives on the Regional Board to one. Now the two elected members on the RDCO Board represented approximately 5700 as opposed to the previous four members prior to 2007 with a population of almost 40,000. This left the two electoral directors with the current governance framework that does not match or suit our existing jurisdictions. This allows the EA Directors no ability to represent the needs of their rural communities; on their own services and taxes. The appointed municipal members dominate the vote on EA local services and functions constantly outvoting the elected representatives for these areas although they neither contribute financially nor participate in these services. This has created dysfunction at the Board level for EA Representatives trying to provide policy and direction to our local services and frustration within the residents paying for said services.
The economic and social issues in the small community/sub division aspect of the rural electoral areas differ greatly from the more urban centers that comprise 99% of the RDCO population. This element alone demands a more community based governance model in the rural areas rather than the more impersonal big city “corporate” approach to doing business expected in the municipalities.
The North Westside Fire Protection District is comprised of many small sub division style communities with a variety of sizes, populations and service levels. The common factor is the rural lifestyle and a more limited provision of services due mainly to a larger lot size, terrain and surrounding geography. This provides these smaller and in many cases more isolated communities more in common with each other regardless of their separation than they have with their distant municipal partners. The North Westside Fire Protection District currently comprises:
- Three public water systems with approximately 600 connected,
- Three private water systems with approximately 400 – 500 connections
- Hundreds wells and lake sourced domestic home water supplies
- One Community operated septic sewage system – approximately 300 connected
- Two fire halls and a boat house with current required apparatus,
- One public and one private solid waste transfer sites.
- 6 Community Parks
- Planning Function – as Electoral Area
- OCP’s for the North Westside District
- Regional Growth Strategy for the North Westside District
- Sub-Division Development Bylaw
The Area Director received strong support from the various community organizations and during meetings. Those that attended the 2015 & 2016 Town Halls, both RDCO Public Information Meetings and follow-up meetings with the North Westside Governance Committee and residents have encouraged an in depth study of or taxation and service delivery model.
The legislative provisions relative to municipal incorporation are contained in Section 7 of the Local Government Act. The Local Government Structure Branch in the Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development provides advice on the incorporation and restructure. The Branch has prepared generic terms of reference to guide the governance study process. Draft terms of reference for a North Westside fire Protection District Governance Study are attached to this report as Appendix I. These terms of reference are based on the generic version prepared by the Ministry.
The Governance Study process will involve retaining a qualified consultant to carry out the governance analysis and public engagement processes. It is recommended that the RDCO request a Planning Study grant from the Ministry to help defray the direct cost to the North Westside Fire Prevention District.
The reasons for proposing a Governance Study is due in large part to the sizeable population density and growth within the neighboring municipalities as opposed to the rural nature and lifestyle in the electoral areas that we wish to protect. This being said there is still a growing expectation for “urban type” services (i.e., sewer/septic upgrades, water, parks, recreation center, school, etc.) and public demands for more stringent land use controls.
Other reasons often cited by area residents – both pro and con – for looking at incorporation include:
- Local Control – The idea of local control over the provision of public services, patterns of land use, and community character and identity is the basic reason that communities incorporate or attempt to do so. This may be a significant advantage of incorporation, assuming that there already exists a sense of community that includes some consensus as to community goals and some shared vision of future development. The absence of such a consensus may make it difficult to successfully incorporate.
- . Local Accountability – Hand in hand with the idea of local control is the idea of local accountability of public officials and governmental bodies for their decisions. Where the residents of an unincorporated community may feel neglected or ignored by regional district officials, who serve a broader constituency, those of an incorporated municipality may believe they have more direct influence over their elected local officials.
- . Provision of Services – A newly incorporated municipality may be in a better position to provide its own municipal services and provide those services more efficiently.
- Land Use and Development – As noted above, the issue of local control prominently involves the ability of a community to govern its land use and development based upon its own goals and visions of community character.
- Cost to Taxpayers – The estimated cost to taxpayers of a proposed incorporation is often a deciding factor in an incorporation effort. The specter of raised taxes has proven to be an effective weapon against some incorporation efforts. However, the actual cost to taxpayers of incorporating is very difficult to accurately forecast in advance and is dependent upon the individual circumstances of the area being considered for incorporation.
- Community Identity – Clearly, incorporation of an area will result in a change in and a heightening of community identity by more explicitly defining the community by the boundaries of the incorporated area. Incorporation may serve to create an autonomous community identity separate from the larger unincorporated area or from surrounding cities. By establishing or enhancing community identity and creating greater local control over future identity, incorporation may stimulate increased community involvement and concern.
The reasons noted above for looking at incorporation will surely reflect certain sentiments in the community. However, the governance study process is not intended to promote a particular course of action. The guiding principles for the restructure process as outlined by the Ministry are as follows:
- the process for examining municipal restructure should be locally initiated and focused;
- the decision to restructure must be made by the electorate through a referendum;
- the vote should be made by an informed electorate; and
- all sectors of the community need to be involved in the discussion.
At the end of the day, any decision on governance arrangements is one for the residents of the area to make.
If the Board approves the recommendations contained in the report and the Provincial funding is secured, staff will develop a work plan to carry out the Governance Study in accordance with the proposed terms of reference.
A comprehensive communication and public engagement plan will be developed as part of the study process.
Links to Governance Studies
West Kelowna: WestbankIncorpStudy1992
April 2016 – It is the intention of the two E.A. Directors to seek a resolution from the Regional Board to support a Provincially funded Governance Study. This study would use a committee of residents chosen by the Ministry to explore the options available to us as a community. Should the Study determine that Incorporation is an option then a second committee would be formed again by the Ministry to determine through a Provincially funded Incorporation Study; community overview, responsibilities and what it will all cost the local taxpayers. Should this Study, supported by the Committee & the Minister for Community, Sport & Culture decide that Incorporation is financially feasible with strong community support then the issue would go to referendum. 50% + 1 vote will determine the outcome.
Municipal Incorporation Process
The following is a summary of the municipal incorporation process:
- An individual or group contacts the ministry to indicate that there is community support for an incorporation study and to inquire about the process for incorporation. This has been done in both EA’s.
- The ministry, along with local citizens, assesses the local context to determine if a broad base of community support exists for considering incorporation and that the community has the characteristics that would make a municipality feasible. There seems to be considerable support from all areas in both EA’s.
- An incorporation study committee is formed from residents that is broadly representative of the community. Residents from both EA’s have offered their time to form this committee.
- The committee asks the minister for approval in principle to conduct an incorporation study. It would be our intention to have the committee get a resolution of support from the Board for this request.
- If the minister decides that approval in principle can be given, the committee establishes terms of reference for both the committee and the incorporation study and selects an independent consultant to conduct the study.
- The committee makes a formal request to the minister for a restructure planning grant to fund the study.
- If the minister approves the grant, the consultant works with the committee to produce an objective study on the impact of municipal incorporation.
- The ministry provides an offer of provincial assistance, financial and otherwise, that it will give to the municipality if it incorporates. This information is included in the municipal incorporation study.
- The final study is presented to the community for public discussion and input.
- Based on community input, the committee decides whether to recommend to the minister that a vote be held to decide if the majority of the electorate support municipal incorporation.
- If the committee recommends that a vote be held and the minister agrees, an order to hold the vote will be given. Community meetings are held leading up to the vote so that local citizens have every opportunity to make an informed choice.
- If local citizens vote in favour of municipal incorporation, Letters Patent are prepared for approval by Cabinet. Letters Patent are the legal documents creating the municipality. These include information such as the effective date of incorporation, the name of the municipality, the council size, and identifies other transitional issues such as the transfer of services to the municipality from the regional district and any improvement district dissolved as a consequence of incorporation.
- The ministry hires an interim municipal administrator to prepare everything necessary for the inaugural meeting of council.
- The first municipal election takes place on a date set out in the Letters Patent.
More General Information from Ministry Site
- The benefits of becoming a municipality were: more effective local government, better fire protection, increased revenues for improvements, and more favourable borrowing and zoning powers
- Under provincial law, municipalities are to be designated “district municipalities” on incorporation if the area to be incorporated is greater than 800 hectares (8 km²) and has an average population density of less than 5 persons per hectare (500 persons per km²).Municipalities may be incorporated under different classifications under the direction of theLieutenant Governor in Council, as is the case with the District of North Vancouver.
Main article: List of district municipalities in British Columbia
A district municipality is a classification of municipalities used in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor in Council may incorporate a community as a district municipality by letters patent, under the recommendation of the Minister of Communities, Sport and Cultural Development, if the area is greater than 800 ha (2,000 acres) and has a population density of less than 5 people per hectare, and the outcome of a vote involving affected residents was that greater than 50% voted in favour of the proposed incorporation.
British Columbia has 50 district municipalities that had a cumulative population of 746,125 and an average population of 14,923 in the 2011 Census. British Columbia’s largest and smallest district municipalities are Saanich and Wells with populations of 109,752 and 245 respectively.
Of British Columbia’s current 50 district municipalities, the first to incorporate as a district municipality was North Cowichan on June 18, 1873, while the most recent community to incorporate as a district municipality was the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality(NRRM) on February 6, 2009. Although portrayed as a regional municipality in its official name, the NRRM is actually classified as a district municipality.
Restructure Planning Grants are provided to assist communities wishing to study the implications of municipal incorporation / restructure and to undertake the associated public consultation process. There is a maximum grant of $40,000 per project.
Municipal Restructure Assistance Grants are provided to assist communities which are in favour of incorporation/restructure. The grant amount is based on population. Transitional assistance is also provided to help with police costs where the new or restructured municipality has over 5,000 people. A parallel program from the Ministry of Transportation provides transitional assistance to municipalities who assume responsibility for roads.
Restructure Implementation Grants are provided to assist communities with the implementation of incorporations, restructures, and significant changes in local service structure, such as interim administration or transfer of improvement districts to local government.
Principles of Change
The province’s approach towards municipal incorporation and restructure is facilitative and is guided by the following principles:
- The process for examining change should be locally initiated and focused;
- Communities choose how they are governed;
- The role of the Local Government Department is to facilitate the processes whereby local governments and citizens make informed choices about how they are governed
Role of the Local Government Department
The Local Government Department has a multi-faceted role with respect to incorporation and structure changes by:
- Providing advice to local governments and local citizens about changes to local government structure;
- Facilitating the decision-making process and discussions between various stakeholders to the process, including local citizens, local government bodies, local community organizations, provincial agencies, and industry;
- Supporting the change process by providing financial assistance under the Local Government Grants Regulation.
There are 3 components to this assistance:
- Restructure planning grants which fund governance review studies and the public consultation process;
- Restructure assistance grants which provide financial assistance to a new or restructured municipality. These are per capita grants provided in conjunction with assistance from other ministries; and
- Restructure implementation grants which fund the administrative costs for a new or restructured municipality and support improvement district conversions.
- Taking the necessary action to effect the incorporation or restructure once a decision has been made at the local level. This may include obtaining Cabinet approval of Letters Patent which are the legal documents creating or modifying a local government structure; obtaining Cabinet approval of a specific regulation; or obtaining legislative changes to the Municipalities Enabling and Validating Act; and
- Working with stakeholders to develop advisory materials and best practices to guide the change process.
For more information: Contact Local Government Structure at
Local Government Restructure Glossary
The following describes frequently used terms:
Amalgamation: The combining of two (or more) existing municipalities (no rural territory), approved by vote within each municipality.
Incorporation: Incorporation of a new municipality (from previously rural territory), approved by vote of the community.
Restructure: A generic term for any major change in structure. In addition to new municipal incorporations, it applies to the inclusion of significant population and rural territory into an existing municipality or municipalities. Complex projects may include concurrent options of incorporation as a new municipality and inclusion within an existing municipality. Designation as a restructure (by the Minister) qualifies the project for restructuring assistance.
Boundary Extension: Inclusion of rural territory within an existing municipality, usually small in area and population. Do not qualify for restructuring assistance. May involve complex servicing, land use or development issues, and transitional measures. Related items include boundary reduction, status change and amendment to tax provisions in letters patent.
Regional District Structure: Realignment of electoral area or regional district boundaries, and other corporate items (e.g. number of electoral areas, voting).
Service Review: For municipalities or regional districts, the review of significant local service delivery issues. Often applies on a sub-regional basis.
Rural Services and Governance: Review of (non-municipal) community governance and services, notably including the potential transfer of improvement districts. Can involve Ministry resources for dispute resolution.
Policy Development: The Branch contributes to a range of policy development initiatives and development of legislation.
How does a community consider municipal incorporation?
The following describes generic steps in the incorporation study process:
- The Ministry is contacted, either by individuals or a community group, and advised that there is community interest in an incorporation study process. Done
- The ministry works with the electoral area director and community groups to determine if the community is a candidate for an incorporation study process, or if there are other governance options available to address local concerns. On-going
- If the assessment determines that the community is a candidate for incorporation, a request is made to the Minister to approve work on an incorporation study process. Usually the regional district board passes a resolution supporting the project.
- If the Minister accepts the project, approval in principle is provided for work to begin.
- The Ministry works with the electoral area director to establish a Committee.
- Once the Committee is established, the Minister is notified of the members and the study process is approved.
- With the support of the Ministry, the Committee begins holding public meetings to establish the work plan for the incorporation study process, including the public consultation on issue identification.
- Based on the information collected, the Ministry assists the Committee in obtaining a qualified contractor for the study and to prepare the technical study report for the Committee’s review.
- The Committee organizes the public consultation to review and comment on the draft technical study report.
- The Committee provides the Minister with a report on the outcome of the public consultation on the draft technical study report.
- Based on the Committee’s report, the Minister decides whether to order a vote or not.
Principles for considering Municipal Incorporation
The Province’s support for communities that look at incorporation is based on the following principles:
- the process to study incorporation should be locally initiated;
- the study process must be supported by the electoral area director and the regional district;
- the study process should include opportunities for all community interests within an area to participate;
- the study report should help inform electors in considering incorporation; and,
- the decision to incorporate as a municipality must be made by the electorate through a referendum.
Candidates for municipal incorporation
To assess whether a community is ready to study incorporation, the community and the Ministry must make an assessment of the local conditions.
These are the basic questions communities need to answer:
- Is the community part of an existing municipality? No
If the community is already part of a municipality, incorporation is not an option.
- Is the community near an existing municipality? Parts of Study Area are adjacent to existing Municipalities.
If the community is seeking local services, it may be more cost effective to join a nearby existing municipality. This possibility needs to be included as part of the Study.
- Has the community voted against municipal incorporation in the past? No.
If a community has rejected incorporation, the Minister will want to know what has changed to warrant revisiting the issue. Change can include the conversion of improvement district services to regional district service areas and the establishment of a regional district commission or committee that has taken on delegated authority to manage local services. These types of changes demonstrate a community’s increased interest in self-government.
- Are the community’s issues related to the role of municipal government? Yes.
Municipalities have a broad range of responsibilities. However, they do not deal with schools, public health, social services, income tax or areas of provincial jurisdiction, such as resource extraction and environmental management. Municipal incorporation can only address issues within the jurisdiction of a municipality. The issues are of Local Service in nature.
- Is the regional district presently considering, or engaged in a major initiative for the community, such as developing a plan (e.g., community,
liquid waste management, economic development, etc.) or working on a capital infrastructure project (e.g., water system, sewer system, etc.)?
If the answer is yes, this initiative should be completed before an incorporation study takes place. The complexity and time commitment of an incorporation study process requires the undivided attention of all community interests.
- If these questions are satisfactorily answered, the Ministry will make an assessment of the community to see if it has the characteristics suitable to be incorporated as a separate municipality. The following are some of features that are considered:
Population – Determined by Study
A community should have a permanent population of qualified electors to provide a base for administration, public engagement and candidates for Council. <6000 estimated permanent population with large seasonal population increases.
Location and area – Determined by Study
A community should be able to define itself and its boundaries in a clear and consistent manner in the following areas. Proposed area for study would include all land outside the incorporated areas not including WFN lands.
Relationship to Neighbouring Municipalities – Determined through Study
There should a physical separation between the community and an existing municipality. If a community is adjacent to an existing municipality, joining that municipality through a municipal restructure may be more appropriate. Amalgamation with surrounding municipalities is a strong possibility for one or more communities directly adjacent to one of the four that have adjacent boundaries.Provided both sides agreed to terms and a referendum would determined the final outcome.
Geographic Features – Determined through Study
Natural geographic features define many communities. For example, communities may be in a valley, or along a lake or river. These features are important in defining municipal boundaries. Preassigned boundaries are already in place due to previous incorporations and existing RDCO boundaries.
Road Network – Determined through Study
Residents can identify community traffic patterns and the local road network that would be within municipal boundaries. This is important because local roads transfer to municipal responsibility upon incorporation and partial roads are not permitted. Areas with extensive road networks can result in high costs to a new municipality and careful consideration should be given to this component. Reasonably small road network in target areas reduces cost impact. Strata’s see no change. Provincial roads remain Provincial (Westside Road, Hwy 97/33, etc) responsibilities. Remaining roads will form local service areas for the purpose of maintenance and snow removal same as in the strata areas.
Legal Boundaries – Determined through Study
Residents can define municipal boundaries without dividing properties or excluding areas within the proposed incorporation area. Our boundaries are already defined … everything left in the Regional District outside the Municipal Boundaries and WFN Lands.
Assessment Base – Determined through Study
Property taxes, based on general net taxable assessments, provide most of a municipality’s annual budget for delivering local services. The relationship between the assessed value of properties and the variety of property types is a key factor in a municipality’s financial viability. The assessment base of a municipality should be sufficient to support the range of local services that are provided by a municipality.
Ideally, the assessment base will be composed of a mix of residential, business and industrial property classes. This variety provides a municipal council with flexibility in establishing property tax rates and in spreading the tax load to mitigate any sudden shifts in a particular class of assessment.
Local Services – Mainly in place, well funded and in good order.
The community should be receiving a range of local services from one or more authorities, such as
improvement districts or the regional district. While the number of services may vary, they may include water, sewer, fire protection, recreation facilities, parks, solid waste transfer site/ curb side pick-up and street lighting. A fire protection service area is often a good starting point for defining a potential municipal boundary.
Planning and Regulation – Mainly in place.
The community should have a well-developed set of planning and regulatory bylaws. These may include bylaws for zoning, subdivision, building inspection, animal control and noise control. Notably, the community will likely have an official community plan, through the regional district, which will be inherited by the new municipality. Communities undergoing a major initiative in this area are not candidates for considering municipal incorporation until these processes are completed.
Regional Services – Mainly in place.
- The community should be participating in a number of regional services such as libraries, emergency planning and solid waste management.
Community Involvement – Very strong within local areas (Wards).
A community should have a strong sense of identity and community spirit. This is often reflected by the presence of groups or organizations that are interested in local issues, such as a community association, ratepayers group, and local committees formed through the regional district. The extent of community involvement indicates the interest of the community to be involved in civic affairs. – Strong sense of identity and community spirit within the individual Wards of the proposed Rural Incorporation area.
Economy – Determined through Study
A community should have a stable local economy with a moderate to large property tax base.
Why do communities consider municipal incorporation?
The following points provide some of the reasons that residents are interested in municipal incorporation:
Residents may be concerned that:
* the regional district system is not responsive to local elected officials and community viewpoints; and,
* there is not enough co-ordination, and/or too much conflict, between the different jurisdictions (regional district,
improvement district, etc.) that provide services to the community.
Residents may be:
* concerned with the way the demands of population growth are being managed; and,
* interested in more local control to develop a community vision and make community based decisions on land use, development and environmental issues.
Residents may be:
* dissatisfied with the level and cost of existing services, and the ability of current service providers to meet the demand for additional services; and, provide cost effectively
* interested in better co-ordination to establish new or upgraded services.
Residents may want:
* priorities for spending to be set at the community level; and,
* to improve their ability to access grant programs from senior levels of government.
Usually a combination of the items described above will motivate residents to consider municipal incorporation.
Who is involved in the incorporation study process? (Please note: a study is not undertaken until the Minister is satisfied these questions above have been adequately addressed and ministry staff have had the opportunity to review the material and make an independent assessment of the community.
The Minister has the responsibility and the authority to approve incorporation study projects, as the Province makes a financial contribution to help communities incorporate as a municipality. In addition, the Minister is responsible for ordering an incorporation vote, and if it is approved, recommending to Cabinet that the municipal incorporation should be approved.
If a community appears to be a candidate for an incorporation study, the Ministry provides an assessment of the community to the Minister, for a decision on whether to approve an incorporation study process.
If the Minister approves a study project, the Ministry’s role is to:
* support the electoral area director in establishing a committee to oversee a process for community consultation for the study;
* provide information on the incorporation process and experiences of other communities;
* prepare a technical study on the implications of incorporation or support an independent consultant/contractor to undertake this work;
* provide an analysis of the transfer of services to a new municipality;
* participate in community meetings;
* if appropriate, obtain ministerial approval to hold an incorporation referendum;
* if the electors vote to incorporate, prepare the required legal documents for the Minister to approve and recommend to Cabinet; and
* assist with the implementation of a new municipality.
- In addition, the Ministry is responsible for consulting with First Nations on an incorporation study process. Whenever the Province proposes a decision or activity that has the potential to affect aboriginal rights, the Province has an obligation to consult. This duty arises from court decisions and is consistent with the Province’s commitment to a new relationship with First Nations and the negotiation and resolution of modern-day treaties.
The Regional District
The regional district is the local government for unincorporated areas. The regional board and the electoral area director have an important role in the incorporation study process. Their support and willingness to participate in the incorporation study process is required for a project to proceed. As the elected (political) representative for the area, the electoral area director is accountable for the regional district staff time and resources that will be required for the study process.
The Advisory Study Committee
The volunteer advisory study committee (Committee) is responsible for guiding and managing the public discussion of the implications of municipal incorporation. The committee is neutral on the question of incorporation and is required to report to the Minister on the outcome of the public consultation process. This information is important for the Minister to make a determination on whether the matter of incorporation should be put to a vote. The electoral area director helps establish the Committee and is considered an ex-officio member.
The objective of the incorporation study process is to provide residents with complete and accurate information to help them make an informed decision about whether the matter should go to a vote. The process also provides the opportunity should the decision be made to go to a vote, to inform the electorate of the implications of the decision. The Local Government Act requires that a majority of eligible voters within the proposed boundary approve incorporation through a referendum. 50%+ 1 in favour = Incorporation
What would we look like as a Rural Municipality?
Should we be successful in our Rural Incorporation bid we would return to the Board table with one appointed representative as it is now for two existing municipalities; West Kelowna with two and Kelowna with six soon to be seven due to their population. This would give us one vote at the RDCO Board on issues of regional scope and function remembering that we currently represent <2% of the overall District and shrinking… fast due to rapid growth in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and WFN and stagnant growth within the Electoral Areas.
If we are not financially able to incorporate?
The information collected during the Study Portion of the incorporation process would enable the two existing electoral area representatives to negotiate an improved governance model for us with the RDCO Board.
History of Electoral Area Governance Problems in Central Okanagan East & West
16-02-05 It has been a year now that I have been questioning the governance process that is the Regional District of the Central Okanagan from the perspective of the electoral areas. It is not a pretty picture. There is currently no ability for the two elected Regional Directors to represent their Local Services and Functions that they were put in office to represent. The ten appointed municipal representative consistently out vote the two elected regional Directors on functions, services and budgets that they do not contribute nor participate in. That’s certainly NOT my understanding of democracy actually in my opinion it is more reflective of a classic case of taxation without representation.
During 2015 both Director Hanson and I have voted against many issues local in nature and in the end it including the Budget. We did this in an attempt to influence the Policy and Direction that the Regional District is imposing against our wishes at our taxpayers expense. Some highlights of those efforts include but unfortunately not limited to are:
- PLANNING – The Electoral Area Planning Function for instance is dominated by the neighbouring municipalities. The four municipalities with their ten votes are able to determine any building, variance and land use planning within Central Okanagan West and Central Okanagan East areas. In Central Okanagan West we pay the lion’s share of this Functions Budget yet I am out voted by the adjacent municipalities on any building, variance and land use planning for most of the E.A. West District. The four municipalities after considerable staff time vetted by Municipal lawyers to protect their interests discussion at their Council meetings, agreements were presented to the Board dictating terms for “Fringe Area Planning” (adjacent municipalities ability to vote on issues within the Electoral Areas on Building and Land Use decisions). When the EA Directors asked for an outside independent legal opinion to ensure the best interests of the electoral area residents were protected the request was denied by the Chair on advice of the CAO. As a consequence both Director Hanson and I voted against the agreement and were outvoted by the municipalities resulting in the agreements receiving assent. At this point the RDCO Board Chair (elected by the residents of Kelowna) signed the agreement “on behalf of the Electoral Areas”. That’s not democracy.
- WATER SYSTEM RATE INCREASES – The RDCO operates six water systems. Four are in Electoral Area West and they are located in Westshore Estates, Killiney Beach, Valley of the Sun/Upper Fintry and the Star System in Lower Trepanier. Public meetings (an unbudgeted event with a cost in excess of $20,000.00 that were delivered in the two electoral areas with water system (no meetings for Trepanier) operated by RDCO without permission or consultation with the Electoral Directors or the RD Board. When the EA Directors questioned why they were not consulted prior the Public Information Sessions (which I would consider to be the respectful position that highly paid and supposedly experienced administrators should take) with our Constituents we were told that the same invitation offered to the public in the RDCO Public Information Release. In my opinion this is another example of an out of control Administration pursuing their own agenda clearly not in the best interest of the residents they … serve?
- WESTSHORE RESERVOIR REPLACEMENT – In November of 2015 and item was brought to the RDCO Board regarding a $500,000.00 increase to the Asset Renewal Funding in the Westshore Estate Water System. Westshore Reservoir Replacement The proposal is to replace all four cells at each of the two reservoir sites providing water to Westshores. This took a $318,000.00 planned and funded job on one reservoir site and morphed it into a $848,000.00 that covered both sites. When I inquired (before the Board) as to the reasoning for the half a million dollar increase to the project and the newly found urgency I was told that “all eight cells in the two reservoir sites had reached end of service life” by the Director of Community Services who is the Department Head for Engineering and therefore in charge of the citizen owned water systems that are operated by RDCO. I also inquired of the Director of Community Services if this information was presented at the Public Meetings the RDCO held recently in the communities to promote their water rate increase and reduced consumption threshold on customer usage. The answer was no they had not. I checked the RDCO WaterTalk Newsletter back to its inception in 2011 and found no reference to any issues with the reservoirs little lone end of life and complete replacement. The reasoning given for the “urgent” replacement was based upon the suggestion that $100.000.00 could be saved by piggybacking with the $3,000,000.00 infrastructure upgrade about to start in nearby Killiney Beach. When this $100,000.00 in savings was questioned for some detail no details were … available? I believe that had this project been properly planned and due diligence been done financially we could have achieved the same level of savings through Federal & Provincial Infrastructure Grants. As in Killiney Beach a two thirds grant would guarantee (a check from the government like the 1.8 million dollar cheque Killiney Beach residents got) a $600.000.00 savings compared to the $100,000.00 in unidentified savings which is currently the plan. FYI the RDCO receives an average of 14% Administrative fee on all this money plus Engineering charges a further 3% for a grand total of 17% of all the monies that flow through the organization during the course of the projects.
- FIRE SERVICES – Both Director Hanson and I have (since late 2014 through September 2015) repeatedly asked both the CAO and Board Chair of Administration plans or intentions to “regionalize” the four community fire services. The CAO denied that was his intention on each occasion and the Chair denied knowing what Regionalization even was … ? Then in November they Fire Service Review POMAX Fire Service Review was released and it was clear that the Board and Electoral Area Directors were mislead. This review as I stated to the Board was a series of innuendos and unfounded allegations aimed to support and promote what is an obvious attempt to manipulate policy and direction for the fire service. This is a direction not supported by the elected representative that pay for the service. Our oppositions position on Board liability is absurd. The four Regional Departments have provided in excess of 160 years of combined service responding to thousands of calls from burning complaints to Rank 6 Wildfire out off control and within their Districts. Medical calls in all weather and times of the day. Auto extrication with residents, tourists and just people passing through or near the Rural areas of the Regional District, over the bank, in the lake, up trees you name it. All this without any liability issues or even a missed call that I can recall over my three decades with the fire service within RDCO. Pretty good return for an employer that left all the Wilson Landing and North Westside firefighters (lawfully RDCO employees) that responded to the Shelter Cove fire UNPAID for seven months. That’s not a particularly gracious show of gratitude for the people that actually had their boots in the black and protected the residents homes from the wildfire. I’m sure the RDCO Management that showed up at the air conditioned EOC in KFD on overtime were paid on time.