Vernon backs off amalgamation referendum

Most of council point to opposition from Coldstream and Areas B and C to a restructuring study

Vernon residents will not get a say on whether amalgamation should proceed with the neighbours.

On Monday,  a majority of council rescinded a January motion in principle to ask Vernon voters if the city should pursue the creation of a committee to study the implications of restructuring Greater Vernon governance.

“We’d be asking our citizens to fund a study of a marriage where only person is approaching the alter,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky of the opposition from Coldstream and Areas B and C to a study.

Sawatzky also suggested that a city referendum in November could disrupt the positive relationship with the other jurisdictions and the provincial government won’t fund a study if only one participant is involved.

“They are clearly not willing so it doesn’t make sense to move forward.”

Councillors Bob Spiers and Mary-Jo O’Keefe pushed for the question to be put before Vernon voters.

“I’d like to get a sense of what citizens think,” said O’Keefe, adding that the efforts of the the Greater Vernon Governance Society should be acknowledged.

The society collected 3,160 names on a petition calling for a governance study.

Spiers insists that seeking the views of residents  in November would provide direction to the next city council on amalgamation.

“I’m not saying amalgamation is the way to go, let’s just do a study,” he said.

However, Coun. Juliette Cunningham believes putting the issue before city residents this fall would create false expectations that amalgamation will occur.

“If council in the future gets a dancing partner (another jurisdiction), they can pursue it then,” she said.




















Vernon Morning Star