West Kelowna  

Pushing on policing, power

Policing, power grid redundancy and a second crossing of Okanagan Lake were on the agenda for West Kelowna's delegation at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler this week.

On Thursday, Mayor Doug Findlater and council members lobbied for a review of provincial policing levels serving out of the West Kelowna RCMP detachment.

In face-to-face meetings with ministry representatives, they pressed for discussion on rural detachment policing levels. The city is concerned the province’s contribution is not adequate and is asking for a review of services by the province.

West Kelowna pays for 26 officers to serve the city, while the province pays for 24 to serve Westbank First Nation, Peachland, the Central Okanagan West electoral area, the Okanagan Connector, and Okanagan Lake from Peachland to Lake Okanagan Resort, as well as rural areas like Big White and Joe Rich.

The RCMP is requesting eight additional officers in West Kelowna, which would amount to a 4.5 per cent tax increase, and council wants to ensure it is not taking on policing costs outside its jurisdiction.

“A condition of our municipal policing agreement with the province to conduct reviews of service levels has not been met. Council is hesitant to entertain hiring more officers, particularly since it will mean a large tax increase for taxpayers, without a solid understanding of provincial policing out of the West Kelowna detachment,” said Findlater. 

Also, council continued to push for a second power transmission line into the community. Currently, a single line serves the area from West Kelowna to Summerland.

A commitment has been made by BC Hydro to construct the second line, however a final route has not been determined.

“The new route should be considered with potential forest fire threat in mind,” said Findlater. “The Smith Creek forest fire in 2014, which came very close to the power line, reminds us how vulnerable we are if the power supply is compromised.”

It's anticipated shovels could be in the ground by 2023, with a projected completion date in 2025.

On Wednesday, the delegation pressed the Ministry of Transportation for continued consultation on Highway 97 corridor planning, including consideration of a second bridge across Okanagan Lake.

“The highway, and any changes to it, will have significant impact on West Kelowna residents and we want to be sure that our voice is heard on the matter," said Findlater.

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