Westside referendum?

By a margin of less than 200 votes, residents of Westside have chosen West Kelowna to be the new name of the municipality over Westbank.

The vote was 3841 (47.9%) to 3675 (45.8%).

Okanagan Hills received 315 votes while Westlake had just 185.

The ballot was not a binding referendum, but instead a community opinion survey.

Westside Council is not obligated to go with the final results.

Newly elected mayor, Doug Findlater, says the results of the opinion survey will be forwarded, likely to the new council for consideration.

"The new council will have to consider those results. If they decide to make a change, those would go to the Ministry of Community Services. They would have the final say whether to amend our Letters Patent," says Findlater.

"There is one other step in there and that is because we change the name, the new name would need to be checked out legally to ensure it can be used."

Adam Les, who was chair of the Naming Committee says simply, the people have spoken.

"We have heard from all of the councillors pretty much, that they would go with what the majority selected, and though it was a slim majority it was a majority. I remind you it was a slim majority that won incorporation as well," says Les.

"That's how democracy works and it appears that the majority of Westsiders have selected West Kelowna."

Les and his committee had recommended that council go with five new names, staying away from West Kelowna and Westbank.

"The naming committee always wanted to avoid a split result, but at the same token, Councillor Findlater made it clear that he wanted a ballot that indicated a clear result. This is a clear result. This is not a split vote where every name got 20 or 30 per cent."

He adds that from purely a marketing perspective, West Kelowna is a marketers dream.

Les says Kelowna is one of the top tourist destinations in Canada, and the new name, if selected by council, is a natural tie-in to that marketing opportunity.

The new Westside Council holds its first meeting December 1.

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