Now is the time for residents of the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen Area D to decide what services they want from their government.
The preliminary stages of the Area D governance study are underway with the next public meeting taking place Dec. 7 and once a month going forward through to the summer in the club room at the Okanagan Falls Community Centre Gym.
The first step in the process is getting the facts out to the community relating to what services the RDOS is currently offering.
There is a portion at the end of each meeting for the public to put forward their input. As of yet the meeting on Nov. 2 had not heard any input from the public at the meetings, but governance study committee chairperson Bob Daly said the conversation is starting.
“People are starting to be aware of the process and we really are going through a few phases with this and first was just an information campaign,” Daly said.
The committee is putting that information out through a series of “fact sheets” with the next one focusing on how the district handles solid wastes. The RDOS website features a series of these fact sheets about governance and local services including water, fire and emergency services, bylaw enforcement, planning and building inspection, parks, trails and recreation, libraries, transit and electoral area governance.
“The cost to the taxpayer, that kind of thing,” Daly said. “As well as a number of other services the regional district provides.”
The next step starts in January with two surveys planned for public comments and opinions on services and governance. Shortly following will be a series of public forums with the public given a chance to put forward submissions.
All the information will be taken into consideration by consultation firm Lefside Partners, who were award the $47,500 contract funded by the province in August.
“What the consultants will do is take all this information from that and put it together in some sort of a form so the regional district can have some sort of idea on how the public, in each of the communities, feels about the services from the government they’re receiving,” Daly said.
Toward the end of the study the consultants along with the 10-person governance study committee will be putting forward recommendations for the various issues that could come up throughout the process.
Following those recommendations will be further public forums to discuss the recommendations.
A formal report will be the end game of the process which will be put before the RDOS board.
“Then it’s in the court of the RDOS board,” Daly said. “It’s up to the regional district to determine how they proceed from there, what they feel they are able to deal with and what they may not.”
Communities in Area D include Apex, Heritage Hills/Lakeshore Highlands, Kaleden, Okanagan Falls, Skaha Estates, St. Andrews, Twin Lakes, Upper Carmi as well as Vaseux Lake and surround areas.
“The public are going to be able to make, in their surveys, some very well-informed decisions on their opinions on the services,” Daly said.