North Okanagan regional district using alternative approval process to borrow $4.5M

The Regional District of North Okanagan head office in Coldstream, B.C. Google Maps

The North Okanagan regional district is looking to purchase a private utility company that services Silver Star Mountain.

To do so, though, the regional district says it needs to borrow $4.5 million to buy Silverhawk Utilities’ assets.

And since it’s a public body looking to borrow money, the regional district (RDNO) has to alert local residents, which it did on Thursday by posting a page on its website.

However, the RDNO says it plans on using the alternative approval process – a measure that benefits governments, as it puts the onus on residents to say no.

Click to play video: 'What is the alternative approval process?'
What is the alternative approval process?

Often used by local governments, an alternative approval process will automatically pass unless 10 per cent of voters in a specific area register public opposition within a deadline, usually 30 days or so.

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If that 10 per cent threshold is met, the local government can then either abandon its plan or hold a public referendum.

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As to why local governments use the alternative approval process, it’s often cited as being cheaper than holding a referendum.

In this case, the RDNO says the threshold to oppose the AAP and force a referendum is 153 people in the Silver Star region of Electoral Area C. The deadline is Monday, Nov. 20 at 4 p.m.

The regional district also said the total purchase price for Silverhawks’ assets is $6 million payable over four years, along with contingency fees for new connections and developments for the next decade.

This month, the City of Kelowna gave itself the green light to borrow $241 million to upgrade several recreation facilities after its alternative approval process passes.

Click to play video: 'Concerns over borrowing millions for recreational projects'
Concerns over borrowing millions for recreational projects

According to the city, just 4,153 residents opposed the plan, falling short of the 12,000 needed to force a referendum.

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However, the District of Summerland is also seeking to borrow $50 million to build a new recreation centre.

But unlike Kelowna and the RDNO, Summerland isn’t using the AAP, and is instead going straight to the public with a referendum.

More information on the regional district’s plan to borrow $4.5 million is available on the RDNO’s website.


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