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Vernon  

OKIB and City of Vernon meet monthly to work jointly on issues

Mayor and chief team up

Vernon's mayor would like to see area First Nations play a bigger role in the region.

Victor Cumming is meeting with Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis on a monthly basis to discuss shared concerns.

The two governments have been meeting for years, and Cumming and Louis have been meeting informally since Cumming was elected, but now formal monthly meetings involving council and staff from both communities will held once a month to discuss common issues.

Cumming would also like to see the OKIB sit on the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee and the regional district board, adding the city and regional district share a large boundary with the OKIB and dialogue with the nation is critical to the entire region.

“We have a really good relationship with the District of Coldstream and Areas B and C, we meet with them in a formal setting at Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, we joint fund things together so we have a very formal relationship ship there and I would see over time the Okanagan Band become part of that mix,” said Cumming, who has experience working with the OKIB before he became the mayor.

“It's up to Okanagan band whether they see that as valuable, but I would love to see them at Greater Vernon Advisory Committee and I would like to see them having a seat at the regional district. And it would be normal at the regional district to have Splatsin as well.”
Cumming said the city and OKIB have numerous areas of common interest and concern.

“There are some combined planning issues that are really important to both of us. Waste water management is one of them; water supply is another one. These are two very significant long-term issues for both Okanagan Band and for ourselves,” said Cumming. “There is waste-water management on their Priest Valley reserve adjacent to the airport and some of that is connected to the City of Vernon sewer and some is not.”
Another shared issue is the Okanagan Indian Band beach, called Sandy Beach by some, which extends from Vernon Creek and Kin Beach.

“That's been an ongoing conversation for more than a year and we're just about at the edge of having a solution at the regional district,” said Cumming.

“There's lots of reasons to update each other,” said Cumming.

Castanet has reached out to Louis for comment.



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