Central Okanagan News
Despite comments to the contrary, several residents and on-lookers at a meeting Thursday on Okanagan East incorporation, say support is thin.
Earlier this week, Central Okanagan East Regional Director, Patty Hanson, indicated strong support for incorporation from her constituents in the Joe Rich, Ellison, June Springs and South Slopes areas.
Hanson indicated earlier this week she and her constituents are 'fed up' with decisions made by the Regional District concerning Okanagan East.
Not all constituents are on the same page as Hanson.
"Everyone I have spoken with across the board is not happy with what Patty Hanson is doing at the moment," says John Collinson, president of the Joe Rich Ratepayers and Tenant's Society.
"The meeting we had last night, (Wednesday) in Joe Rich, very few people showed up because they were not interested at all. Half the people there were part of her (Hanson's) entourage. People that were not part of her entourage definitely spoke against it."
Collinson, who ran unsucessfully against Hanson in last November's Regional District election says incorporation is not something anybody he has talked to has ever wanted to pursue.
"Most people want to be left alone out here. What people are being fed right now are little innuendos and half truths. It is all being designed and fed to us as scare tactics," says Collinson.
Ellison resident Edna Thiessen agreed.
"She is an embarassment to us residents. She claims she is doing this because this is the voice of the residents. This is not the voice of the residents," says Thiessen who also attended Wednesday's meeting as well as a meeting in September in Ellison.
"She claims she has the ministry's support. She does not. All that letter (from the province) states is instructions of how to go about incorporation."
Thiessen says a letter sent on July 8, by Hanson, to then minister responsible Ida Chong, was sent long before residents 'had a sniff' of incorporation.
"She had this going long before she even approached any of the residents."
Regional Director and Kelowna Councillor, Gail Given, also in attendance Wednesday, says she didn't see much support either.
"I would say that's a fair characterization," says Given.
"I think one comment was 'what can we do to stop this,?"
Given says she went to the meeting to get a sense of where residents in the area were in respect to incorporation.
"I did not get a sense there was an overwhelming support for the idea from the residents in her area because we haven't seen a single piece of communication that we want to incorporate," says Given.
"The study she is requesting provincial funds for is long in advance of when it should be. It is way too early. There needs to be a sense that that is actually what the community wants."
Hanson brought forth a motion before the regional board last week asking the board to support an incorporation study for the whole area.
Given says that motion was defeated, however, at the urging of board chair Robert Hobson, the motion was modified to state a governance study instead of an incorporation study. That motion finished in a 5-5 vote meaning it was also defeated.
There have also been suggestions Hanson is working off a hidden agenda.
Collinson says the director is moving forward in hopes that she will be able to subdivide her own property, something that is currently not allowed under the area Official Community Plan.
He also believes her frustration over board decisions concerning the proposed Kelowna Mountain development may also a factor in talks of incorporation.
Hanson specifically referenced her frustration over the recently adopted South Slopes OCP and Kelowna Mountain in her July letter to Chong.
In a letter to Hanson from new minister Bill Bennett dated October 12, Bennett outlined steps required in order to begin an incorporation review.
One of those is support from the regional board for the study.
Until that is forthcoming, it would appear the issue may be mute.
A poll conducted by Castanet shows feelings are mixed on incorporation.
Of the 539 people who made their feelings known, 229 (42.5%) said yes to incorporation while 310 (57.5%) said no.
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