The 'A' word surfaces

Amalgamation of Coldstream and Vernon popped up at the BDO Local Leaders luncheon.

The annual lunch was presented by the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce and brought Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick, Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming, Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis and regional district chairperson Kevin Acton together at the Prestige Inn.

Each official had a few minutes to update those in attendance about where their communities were going, with growth and infrastructure becoming a central theme.

All of the communities are growing and officials talked about the infrastructure, such as water and sewer that is needed to maintain that growth.

Following the speeches, there was a short question and answer session where the audience could ask direct questions of the civic leaders.

It was during the Q and A that the possibility of Coldstream amalgamating with Vernon came up.

Garlick was not able to stay for he question period so Coun. Pat Cochrane fielded the question about Coldstream joining Vernon and the short answer is 'no.'

“The 'A word' does come up on occasion and in my opinion it is an unnecessary discussion,” said Cochrane. “I think Greater Vernon is functioning extremely well with cooperation and as long as the co-operation is there and there is a willingness to work together, it is unnecessary.”

Cochrane said with a population of just over 11,000, “Coldstream is very self sufficient. We do feel we compliment Vernon. We are not looking to build facilities on our own.”

He added Coldstream pays its fair share for amenities located in Vernon.

“Coldstream residents are very happy with that process,” said Cochrane.

During his speech, Garlick said Coldstream has to diversify its tax base and as the community grows it cannot rely on residential taxes.

When asked if joining Vernon would help the tax base, Cochrane said residents would likely end up paying more in taxes.

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