Okanagan East going it alone?

Lake Country and West Kelowna have both broken away from the Regional District of Central Okanagan in recent years.

Central Okanagan East area director, Patty Hanson, hopes her area is next.

Hanson says she and her constituents are 'fed up' with decisions made by the Regional District concerning Okanagan East and has started the process of conducting a governance study.

"I am just frustrated. They don't support anything that I bring up," says Hanson who states she is going to start wearing pink to board meetings "because pink is the anti-bullying colour."

Okanagan  East includes Joe Rich, Ellison, June Springs, Chute Lake and the South Slope area south of Kelowna.

Nearly 3,800 people live in the area.

In June, the City of Kelowna stated it was conducting a boundary review for Ellison, Scotty Creek, South Lakeshore and South Slopes.

The city says residents in those areas have inquired about being included within the city boundaries.

"At the end of the third quarter they (City of Kelowna), asked for information from the Regional District," says Hanson.

"Now, I want a study done for incorporation so, if the minister supports a referendum, then my residents have a chance to make a sound decision."

Hanson says she wants to ask residents if they would choose status quo, incorporating, joining Kelowna or joining Lake Country.

After several town hall meetings in different neighbourhoods, Hanson says she is getting a lot of support for incorporation.

"Most people are fed up with Regional District decisions. I am having meeting with the different areas to inform them of the process and where we go to keep it open."

Hanson says she is frustrated at the regional board table with items she says she and her constituents support that are shot down by the Kelowna controlled board.

"When any issues come up for development the city votes it down because they say it impacts their roads. Why should they have the right to vote in our area," says Hanson.

"When I canvassed in June Springs every single resident up there wants to have the option to go down to five acre lots from 10 to build more of a community so there are more people around."

She says every representative from the city voted it down.

"Walter Gray said if we let you people go down to five acres then people in the City of Kelowna will want to go down to five acres."

"They (regional board) don't support anything that I bring up."

A governance study prior to West Kelowna incorporation took several years to conduct before they were ready to go to the people with a referendum.

Hanson believes a governance study in her area could be complete and a referendum held by next year.

"I only have 3,700 people. We don't have anything by populated areas and gravel pits," says Hanson.

"The process will be a lot quicker. All you have to do is pull the numbers together and determine how much."

Hanson says she has received positive feedback from the province and is waiting for Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister, Bill Bennett to approve funding for an incorporation study.

She hopes to get word back sometime this week.

Hanson was in the news earlier this year after initially demanding the resignation of Regional District board chair, Robert Hobson and planner Dan Plamondon over issues related to the proposed Kelowna Mountain project.

She eventually retracted her comments and publicly apologized.

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