Central Okanagan News
Kelowna taxpayers appear to be off the hook, at least for the time being, for its share of the CN Rail line purchase.
One week after signing a negotiated sales, purchase and gift agreement with CN, local governments are working to secure funding.
“With a route that follows portions of the largely undeveloped shorelines along Kalamalka, Wood and Duck lakes, preserving this corridor as a public asset that is also suitable for dedicated multi-modal transportation is a priority,” says Doug Gilchrist, Divisional Director Community Planning & Real Estate for the City of Kelowna on behalf of the regional partners.
“The land would become accessible and valued as a public asset for the benefit of all our citizens.”
Under the Canadian Transportation Agency discontinuance process, a single entity must put forward an interest in acquisition of the corridor; therefore the purchase model is to have the City of Kelowna be the sole purchaser with subsequent purchase and sale agreements to the other jurisdictions.
The due diligence period following signing of the agreement allows 120 days to investigate terms of the agreement, including funding options. With the majority of that time still available, local governments are continuing to work through the details.
While a number of ownership models were explored the preferred model is for each jurisdiction to own the land that falls within its boundaries. The funding allocation between jurisdictions represents the property value of the lands being acquired by each partner.
While the original asking price of the corridor was $50 million, the negotiated cost of the corridor is a combination of $22 million in monetary consideration and land donation for which the City of Kelowna will issue CN with a charitable donation receipt.
The City of Kelowna is estimating its share at $7.6 million which would be funded from reserves and interim financing with no additional tax increase to residents. Because the value of the land is more than the monetary consideration, the City of Kelowna will also issue a charitable donation receipt to CN for the difference.
The Regional District of the North Okanagan will fund its estimated share of $1.9 million from reserves with no increase to taxes.
The District of Lake Country’s estimated share is $5.1 million. To minimize the current tax impact to residents the District will be seeking approval to borrow up to approximately 50 per cent of this amount.
Given the regional benefits of public ownership, the City of Kelowna has additionally agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with the District of Lake Country that would see Kelowna acquire a 50 per cent interest in the land within Lake Country boundaries on a temporary basis.
This abates the immediate cost to Lake Country until such time as the District purchases the share back from the City.
“Given that we are neighbours with shared borders, this is a mutually beneficial agreement for Kelowna and Lake Country,” says Gilchrist.
“The arrangement alleviates the debt load for the District of Lake Country’s residents, protects the opportunity of all the jurisdictions to finalize the deal with CN and preserves the corridor as a continuous route physically connecting the communities of the Central and North Okanagan with no current tax impact for Kelowna residents.”
Local governments are committed to actively pursuing and confirming additional funding options for the remaining approximately $7.3 million of the agreement purchase amount through alternate sources of funding, including grants and partnerships, before the close of the due diligence period.
Given the tight timelines of the due diligence period, the AAP process in Lake Country will be starting right away.
Kelowna City Councillor, Gail Given is the new chair of the Regional District of Central Okanagan.
Given replaces Robert Hobson who spent 21 years as board chair before deciding not to run for re-election in Kelowna last month.
"It's an absolute honour," says Given who served the last two years as vice-chair under Hobson.
"Robert provided lots of guidance and support to me as the vice-chair and opportunities to chair meetings, opportunities to do announcements and have a little bit of a taste of what it was like."
Given, nominated by West Kelowna Mayor, Doug Findlater, ran unopposed and was acclaimed to the chair.
West Kelowna Councillor, Duane Ophus beat out Central Okanagan East Electoral Area Director, Patty Hanson for the vice-chair position.
Given continues a long line of Kelowna representatives who have served as board chair.
She was preceded by Robert Hobson (21 years), Sharron Simpson (3 years) and Jim Stuart (16 years).
The last non-Kelowna representative at the board table to serve as chair was Andy Duncan, the Westbank Area Director who served as chair in 1973 and 1974.
"I'm always looking forward to opportunities where I can grow my leadership skills and serve the community at a deeper level," says Given.
"I have the capacity to do more and I just look forward to serving."
With five new members and a new chair, Given says it's a new time and a new era for the regional district and the regional board.
"My work is to make sure we're delivering the most effective and efficient service at the best price for the taxpayers," adds Given.
"Robert's particular passion was parklands and he has left an amazing legacy for our community and protected conservation areas, trails and natural areas. As we move forward we have to, not totally abandon the search for more properties, but look toward making the properties we do own more usable by the residents."
Given says there's a lot of work ahead but believes building on regional relationships and finding efficiencies.
The position of chair is for one year.
During a six-week period from October though November, the Kelowna RCMP executed hundreds of warrants throughout the Central Okanagan and beyond.
The Warrant Team project involved a dedicated team of RCMP officers solely focussed on outstanding warrants from the Kelowna Regional jurisdiction (Peachland to Oyama).
Although their mandate only included the Central Okanagan, they were given discretion to venture outside of that if information suggested a wanted person from the area was residing in a neighbouring community.
“By allowing our officers some level of mobility across jurisdictions, we were able to track down more wanted persons than would've been possible otherwise,” says Superintendent Nick Romanchuk, Officer in Charge of the Kelowna Regional RCMP.
In all, a total of 296 Warrants for Arrest were executed while the Warrant Team was in operation. That translates to a total of 197 subjects arrested on outstanding Warrants.
“These types of projects have value for us as they facilitate getting charged persons back into court and move the process forward,” adds Supt Romanchuk.
“We want all criminals to know that you cannot escape prosecution by avoiding your court dates.”
In comparison, the Kelowna Regional RCMP executed 197 Warrants during the same period last year, and 168 during the six weeks prior to the start of the project.
The Kelowna Regional RCMP has 73 remaining outstanding Warrants for Provincial Court.
Residents of Lake Country were invited to ‘Cram the Cruiser’ again this year, and they did just that.
Members of the RCMP, along with auxiliary officers and volunteers, were on hand at Cooper’s Foods Saturday for the third annual event, asking for non-perishable food donations.
Even the local fire department got into the act, serving up chili and buns for donations to the food bank.
"Our largest donation this year came from Keith and Loretta Stutters of Stutters Disaster Kleenup in Kelowna, who donated $2,000 to the Lake Country Food Bank," says Cst. Jesse O'Donaghey.
"Also Todd Ryder, the manager of the Cooper's Foods in Lake Country, generously donated hundreds of the pre-packaged bags of food items for the food bank, including the $5 raised for each of them."
A grand total of $5,336 in cash and cheques, along with 2,646 pounds of food, was raised for the Lake Country Food Bank.
Betta Lawton of Lake Country also took home a grand prize donated by WestJet, a travel voucher for two, anywhere WestJet flies.
The $5 million jackpot prize in last night`s Lotto 6/49 draw went unclaimed.
The jackpot for next Wednesday`s draw will rise to approximately $7 million, and there will also be one guaranteed prize of a million dollars.
* The largest prizes ever won in BC were $50 million Lotto Max jackpots in October 2010 and March 2014.
* Annually, up to $6 hundred million dollars are awarded to BC ticket holders.
* Oddest win, a Surrey resident won a total of $31.7 million in 2013 with two winning tickets on the same draw.
* 80 per cent of of ticket sales are Quick picks
* Your odds of winning are slightly more than a million to one.
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