Updated: Apr 15
UPDATE: Coldstream District Council, Vernon Council, and the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO) Area E director have joined the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce in petitioning the Premier to reconsider the electoral boundary change that fragments the long-established North Okanagan region.
The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to the Premier of British Columbia and the local MLA, expressing opposition to the recent changes made to the electoral boundaries, which would move the District of Coldstream from an electoral district with the City of Vernon and Areas B and C of the Regional District of North Okanagan to an electoral district with the District of Lake Country and part of the City of Kelowna.
The Chamber of Commerce argues that this move would have negative impacts on the Greater Vernon region, as Coldstream plays a significant role in the local economy and is considered a part of Greater Vernon, partnering with them on domestic water, trails, and cultural services.
Robin Cardew, the President of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, stated,
"We appreciate that the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission was responding to population growth in B.C. by redistributing boundaries, but population should not be the only consideration when determining boundaries."
The Chamber also expressed disappointment with the lack of consultation on this specific boundary adjustment, with no ability for local government, the public, or organizations such as the Chamber to provide input.
Cardew further added, "We urge you to meet directly with our Chamber, the District of Coldstream, and the Regional District of North Okanagan in the hope that this decision can be revisited. We would also encourage the Legislative Assembly, in the future, to provide the public with meaningful input once the Electoral Boundaries Commission’s final report has been tabled and before MLAs vote on the document."
The Chamber's letter emphasizes the need for collaboration between communities, highlighting joint ventures such as Greater Vernon's partnership with Coldstream on domestic water, trails, and cultural services. The Chamber believes that keeping Coldstream in the same electoral district as the City of Vernon and Areas B and C of the RDNO will allow for simpler and more effective collaboration between the partners.
As Cardew stated, "A single representative will simplify the process for RDNO and the Greater Vernon partners to pursue senior government support for joint projects and local services; Residents and Business Owners will better understand the roles and responsibilities of their representatives within Greater Vernon when there is one electoral district; Organizations such as the Chamber can direct limited resources to a single elected representative when advocating on behalf of their membership and community; A single Member of the Legislative Assembly will be able to provide effective representation for Coldstream and Greater Vernon."
The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is hoping for a reconsideration of the decision and a more collaborative approach to future electoral boundary changes.