Water councillors under axe

The Town of Osoyoos is pushing forward with a plan to eliminate the need for water councillors in its local government.

The municipalities of Osoyoos and Oliver both operate rural water systems outside their municipal limits. Since 1989, both councils have included a pair of water councillors elected from those rural areas to participate and vote on water-related matters only. 

Osoyoos water Coun. Kuldeep Dhaliwal was kicked from council earlier this month after failing to show up for four consecutive monthly meetings, setting the wheels in motion for Osoyoos to eliminate the position completely. 

Council voted Monday to send a request to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen to have them operate the rural water systems under an extra-territorial agreement. The RDOS will discuss that request Thursday.

Osoyoos council heard, in the meantime, the provincial government has requested a by-election be held for Dhaliwal’s vacant seat. General voting day is tentatively scheduled for November 2. 

Up the valley in Oliver, council there has also grappled with the role of water councillors. Last year, Oliver strictly limited the role of water councillors to discussing water-related issues. Prior to that, they participated in a wider variety of discussions. Oliver has made no indication it wants to eliminate the role completely.

The current arrangement was created in 1989 when the Southern Okanagan Lands Irrigation District was dissolved by the provincial government. The move saw 60 per cent of the district’s assets and water systems 1-7 handed to the Town of Oliver, with the remaining 40 per cent of assets and water systems eight and nine given to Osoyoos.

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