Only eight of the 19 members of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen were present at the March 19 board meeting. The regional district has now chosen to close its facilities to the public. Accredited media will be allowed at board meetings. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen closes its buildings

COVID-19 concerns prompt decision

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has closed its facilities, including its Penticton office, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board made its decision at a public meeting on March 19. At this meeting, only eight members of the 19-member board in the building. The rest participated through a conference call.

The decision closes all regional district facilities to the public until further notice. This includes corporate and satellite offices, recreation facilities and community halls.

However, staff members will still be at work and board meetings will continue.

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The meetings will be open to accredited media only.

Members of the board said the media presence is essential.

“It’s really important for democracy that the media is there,” said Doug Holmes,

“Freedom of the press is a fundamental part of our democratic form of government,” said Ron Obirek.

While the board is able to set up a conference call system with directors, the board office does not have a method in place to present video streaming of its meetings.

In addition to closing the offices, the regional district is also cancelling indefinitely its public information meetings and advisory group meetings.

Those who need to do business with the regional district are asked to call 250-492-0237 or email info@rdos.bc.ca.

Applications for planning or building permits must be submitted at the front entrance of the office at 101 Martin St., Penticton, or sent by email.

Payments will be accepted by cheque or electronically by debit or credit card where available.

Board chair Karla Kozakevich said the regional district is working to address the threat of the pandemic and to ensure the regional district’s essential services can continue.

“The Government of Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Health continue to deem the overall risk of spread of COVID-19 in B.C. communities as low, but the evidence shows that the reach is expanding,” Kozakevich said. “The RDOS is taking the matter seriously and the board is being updated as conditions evolve.”

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