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

Just Posted

McGuire Lake will be on the route of a new Active Loop created around Salmon Arm’s downtown. (File photo)
You’re invited to try a new Active Loop around Salmon Arm’s downtown

Loop created by Downtown Salmon Arm covers about 4.5 kilometres and takes about an hour

Salmon Arm RCMP responded to three incidents involving women concerned for their own safety between June 13 and 17, 2021. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP respond to concerns about women being watched, followed

In one of three incidents a woman was invited into a vehicle but declined

A pair of Alberta residents were arrested after police responded to a report of a woman who had allegedly been assaulted and confined against her will on June 20, 2021. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP arrest 2 Albertans suspected in alleged assault, unlawful confinement

Firearm, stolen items seized including NHL hockey cards believed to be worth thousands

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District advises residents to check on regulations before installing or changing docks, buoys or swimming platforms. (CSRD image)
Stop before you install that dock, buoy or swim platform in a Shuswap lake

Columbia Shuswap Regional District advises residents to check first as regulations may apply

Gift from the Heart on June 26 offers no-cost dental hygiene to people who can’t otherwise afford it. First booked, first served. (File photo)
Day for no-cost dental hygiene treatment coming up in Salmon Arm

Smile People clinic takes part in Gift from the Heart, first booked, first served basis

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

Most Read