Okanagan Falls has been approved to launch on incorporation study

Ready to govern itself

Casey Richardson

Okanagan Falls is looking into incorporating. The RDOS voted in favour to support the incorporation study on Thursday, moving forward with a request from the Okanagan Falls Community Association on assessing costs and benefits. 

The request moved to the Minister of Municipal Affairs for restructure funding in 2021 and 2022. 

“Okanagan Falls, most people think, is a town. But it's not, it's a rural area just like Anarchist, Tulameen or Cawston. As an unincorporated community we don’t have the same authority or ability to do things. Over the past 54 years, this community has had some shortfalls,” Ron Oberik, the Okanagan Falls regional district director said.  

Currently Okanagan Falls is marked as Electoral Area “D”, and mostly works with the RDOS in its governmental decision making.  

Matthew Taylor, the president of the Okanagan Falls Community Association, stated that the community wants to know what exactly this would mean and how it would impact. 

“I've actually had conversations with people on both sides of the fence and I think for myself as well, nobody wants to sign a blank cheque. Even those who are in favour of incorporating are interested in having a better idea,” Taylor explained.

This isn’t the first time Okanagan Falls has been interested in incorporating either, studies have been carried out since 1989.

“That is a step that wasn’t done in the past. We always skipped over that step and we just get into the coffee shop and we’re arm wrestling about whether we should do it or not.” 

The study expects to break down costs, area boundaries, and other important factors that are necessary for the Economic Development and Recovery Plan for Okanagan Falls.

“I think it's fair to say that there are views on both sides of the issue. Our association's mission is to try and provide for a more informed discussion on that. At the moment, we're not talking about incorporation, we’re talking about an assessment of what are the pros and cons and the costs and benefits of incorporation,” Taylor said. 

“When you get into the analysis, one of the shocking things you learn is not can we afford to, but can we afford not to?” Obirek said. “There are advantages that come from a cost perspective and there is a lot of information we don't get.”

Obirek added a lot of issues that come up within the communities he feels he’s learned could be fixed by incorporating, which is why he's become more in favour of the option. 

“This community is ready to make its own decisions and have the benefits that come with that kind of local governance. Indeed in a democracy that's what we sort of expect, we expect to be a government by the people for the people.” 

Incorporation studies are carried out by staff at the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing at the Minister’s request.

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