There was a large and enthusiastic turnout for the Town Hall Meeting concerning Governance in the North Westside last night. The Killiney Beach Community Hall was filled to capacity for the first Town Hall Meeting of 2016 to show support for the Governance Committee and request a Provincial Governance Study to determine the best governance model for the two electoral areas in the Central Okanagan Regional District and in particular the North Westside. This would be accomplished through a multi step process; the first step being a Provincially funded Governance Study. This Study is intended to give residents and taxpayers a perspective as to our current governance model and explore alternate models that would allow for a more realistic input on taxation, service levels their direction and costing.
First off, it was quickly determined that the majority of the community do take issue with our current governance model which is Taxation without Representation. There was overwhelming support for a governance study to determine the best path forward for the community.
Outvoted by the appointed members of the RDCO Board on Local issues (Electoral Area Planning, Water, Fire Services, Solid Waste and Community Parks) that they neither contribute to nor participate in the two Electoral Area Directors find themselves beleaguered and isolated. Financial accountability for operational and administrative decisions and practices are denied. Bias and self serving legal opinions, hidden from those very taxpayers whose lives are most affected by these in camera Board agendas and practices. That is certainly not my understanding of Canadian Democracy and/or a clear, open and transparent process based upon procedural fairness and respect for the ratepayers and residents.
After preliminary research with the assistance of staff from the Ministry of Community, Sport & Culture, the relevant Government Ministry with jurisdiction over Regional and Municipal legislation, a possible path forward may be in the form of a Rural Incorporation. Based upon population and density it seems to be the model that is most able to accommodate in a positive fashion the issues we as a community have identified as disrespectful and therefore unacceptable. If Rural Incorporation is indeed one of the options identified by the Governance Study then the next step is to a Provincially Funded Incorporation Study that will provide costing for the various communities for the new Governance Model.
Once costs associated with any changes have been determined by the Provincial Funded Study, the communities involved have been educated as to the process and costing as well as the Minister of Community has consented, then a referendum would be the next step. 50% + 1 through the door at a referendum poll and we would be BC’s newest community. Should the funding model not be acceptable then our goal would be to negotiate a fairer form of Governance that more closely resembles the wishes of those that pay the taxes.
Questions from the meeting on the Petition and Online Funding Site were put forward. First the petition. As many signatures as possible is the goal. To this extent we have both an online petition North Westside Governance Petition and a paper petition that will be circulating through the community door to door and at community events such as the upcoming Canada Day Celebration at Westshore Community Park. This petition will be a strong indicator for the Province and Regional Board to see that we as a community are serious about change. The Crowd Funding Site North Westside Governance Fund Raiser was developed to offset incidental costs such as newsletters, venue rental, consultants etc. but these funds could also be used to pay for the required referendum at a time of our choosing saving later taxation costs. Referendum costs are as a rule billed back to the community on their initial taxes to recoup the cost paid by the Province on our behalf.
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