Administrative headquarters for the Regional District of Central Okanagan in Kelowna. (File photo)

Tempers fly over a pricey picnic shelter in the North Westside

Lack of detail on $121,000 shelter expenditure further incites self-govenance wishes

A basic picnic shelter – four posts and a roof – has become a symbol of the dysfunctional relationship between the North Westside rural area residents and the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO).

Efforts by the North Westside Communities Association (NWCA) to get a breakdown on the $121,500 cost for the picnic shelter, one of three built in the area by the regional district at a total cost of $235,000, were rebuffed by the regional district, suggesting the association could pursue a Freedom of Information request to the tune of $1,997.50.

“In the end, this is another example of trying to get information based on a reasonable request and for whatever reason, it always turns into a fight,” said Caillie Simpson, a member of the NWCA executive and tasked with pursuing the issue of self-governance.

Simpson took it upon herself to track down the supplier of the picnic shelter in Squamish who told her the shipping and material costs for the structure were about $21,000, leaving her wondering what the remainder of the cost entailed, hence the request for a project cost breakdown.

Simpson cited the example of the picnic shelter in her introductory statement at the inaugural meeting of a regional self-governance committee struck and made a recommendation to the regional district board on the need to pursue an independent self-governance analysis for North Westside, which includes the communities of Fintry, Killiney, La Casa, Westshore Estates, Caesar’s Landing and Valley of the Sun.

READ MORE: No resolutions for unhappy North Westside residents

READ MORE: Regional district supports North Westside

As was cited by a consultant hired by the regional board to assess the relationship between North Westsiders and the regional district in 2017, Simpson said there remains a serious lack of trust in the relationship.

“We have been asking for this governance study since 2016. While other communities with regional districts such as North Okanagan, Kootenay Boundary and Thompson Nicola have had their regional boards support their communities in this endeavour, we have been fighting for several years now just to get a study,” Simpson said.

“What is there to hide about this? We just want an honest, independent assessment of whether it is in the best interests of the North Westside to pursue it via a referendum or it doesn’t, and try to rebuild the relationship with the regional district.

“I have had to jump through so many hoops just to get in front of the board and speak on this issue, that raises red flags to me.”

Simpson said she is hopeful the committee, chaired by regional board vice-chair and West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom, can be a stepping stone toward proceeding with a self-governance study.

Also serving on the committee are Simpson, rural area directors Wayne Carson and Mark Bartyik, CAO Brian Reardon and deputy CFO Marilyn Rilkoff. Regional board chair Gail Given sits on the committee as an ex-officio (non-voting) member as per regional district committee policy.

Given said the regional board doesn’t want to predetermine any outcomes from the self-governance committee.

“We want to allow the committee to do its work under its terms of reference…it is open-ended as to when the committee brings its recommendations to the board,” Given said.

She cautioned that the provincial ministry of municipal affairs also plays a role in the decision-making process as the ministry must approve a grant to cover the self-governance study cost.

Carson, the regional director for North Westside electoral area, said the picnic shelter is just an example of the breakdown of communication between the RDCO and his constituents, who feel a stronger community service association to the North Okanagan than to the Central Okanagan.

“It’s not any one group’s fault, the lack of communication — the community, myself or the regional board. It is a combination of everyone,” he said.

“There is a push among residents to be our independent community but there is a lack of hard facts to determine if that is justified financially or not. We need that self-governance study to answer those questions, so one way or the other we are all pulling in the same direction.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Central Okanagan Regional District

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Okanagan College, Vernon campus. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Student housing coming to Vernon, Salmon Arm

Province announces $66M for new student beds for Okanagan College campuses

A fire truck and police car park at the entrance to the Foreshore Trail about 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 4 as fire crews respond to a report of a fire farther down the trail and just above the railway tracks, between Lakeshore Road and the tracks. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Fire Department quickly extinguishes fire above Foreshore Trail

Blaze started when man’s campfire catches fuel containers on fire

Sicamous will have a new locally-owned option for grabbing a bite on the go as the Snacktastic food trailer opened at the start of March. (Kelly Hesleton/Facebook)
Curbside food trailer gives Sicamous a new dining option

Snacktastic owner Dawn Backs grateful for support from family and community

A B.C. government-run cannabis retail outlet was proposed for a building to be constructed at the Salmon Arm SmartCentres site. (File photo)
Province backs away from plans for Salmon Arm cannabis store

BC Cannabis Store was proposed to be in building to be constructed at shopping centre

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Paramjit Bogarh, connected to the murder of his wife in Vernon 35 years ago, has been relerased on full parole, one year after he was sentenced to five years in prison for accessory after the fact. (Contributed)
Full parole for ex-Okanagan man who helped wife’s alleged killer escape

Paramjit Bogarh pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after helping brother flee Canada

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, normally held in August, was denied a grant due to COVID. (File photo)
COVID makes some of the 2021 grant decisions for Princeton council

Municipality doles out funds while striving to meet policy

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
B.C. dentists and bus drivers want newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely

Most Read