A review will look at services the North Westside receives

A review will look at services the North Westside receives

Governance study cost drives debate

North Westside residents may have to pay for regional district staff time for review

A review of North Westside governance is moving ahead, but who will pay is causing a furor.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan is receiving $20,000 from the provincial government for a services and community issues review for the North Westside. However, RDCO could also charge Central Okanagan West taxpayers for $22,500 in in-kind costs, such as staff time.

“I’m looking for the same process that’s happened everywhere else,” said director Wayne Carson, adding that other communities within RDCO and elsewhere in the province haven’t been billed directly for in-kind costs for studies.

“This is a regional initiative and has been dealt with as a regional initiative before.”

What particularly concerns Carson is the study is only for the North Westside but all taxpayers in the Central Okanagan West electoral area, which includes areas near Peachland and West Kelowna, would have to pay for in-kind costs.

“I’ve had areas say they don’t want to be part of the process. To charge all of Central Okanagan West is unfair,” he said.

RDCO staff say there is no ability to just charge in-kind costs to the North Westside because there isn’t a specific administrative service for the governance review.

“They (all Central Okanagan West residents) will learn and take take advantage of the findings whether it impacts them or not,” said Brian Reardon, chief administrative officer, of broad-ranging benefits.

RDCO’s insistence that it may not cover in-kind costs will upset North Westside residents, says Carson.

“They are proving the case there’s a disconnect between the North Westside and the regional district.”

At Monday’s board meeting, most directors refused to consider investigating options for in-kind cost recovery.

“Central Okanagan West should pay for this. I don’t care what other jurisdictions have done. I don’t want to pay for that,” said Luke Stack, a Kelowna director.

However, there may be an opportunity to discuss the issue of in-kind costs once the terms of reference and scope of services and community issues review are developed.

“We may be able to revisit it,” said Doug Findlater, board vice-chairperson.