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Central Okanagan community calling for self-governance study after pricey park structure

Click to play video: 'Central Okanagan community upset with regional district, want autonomy' Central Okanagan community upset with regional district, want autonomy
Central Okanagan community upset with regional district, want autonomy – Jan 22, 2021

Some Okanagan residents are upset with the Regional District of Central Okanagan, after they learned the district spent over $100,000 on a park structure in their community.

“It seemed like a very high cost for an open air, steel-beam structure,” said Callie Simpson, North Westside community association’s director of governance.

The structure was erected at the Westshore Estates Community Park near the north westside community of Killiney Beach.

Read more: Regional District of Central Okanagan swaps land with private owner to expand park

Residents are not only upset with what they believe to be a high price tag but also the transparency of the project, when they tried to inquire for a breakdown of the expenses.

“I was very disappointed that a community association, a resident, a taxpayer, can’t get information,” said Simpson.

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“My initial request, I just got a one-sentence answer with the total price. We filed a freedom of information (Act request), just for some more details of the cost.”

The next response from the RDCO shocked the community association, as they received a notice that a fee of nearly $2,000 was to be paid for the information.

“It was punitive, we saw it as asking for information that we are entitled to,” Simpson told Global News on Friday.

“That’s how we felt, that there was no transparency from the district.”

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The RDCO says they did everything the right way and that the project was done with proper public consultation.

“Staff proposed the structure based on information we received from the community association in 2019and 2020,” said Murray Kopp, RDCO’s director of park services.

“We actually budgeted $150,000 in our 2020 budget and this project came under that budget.”

Kopp says he believes the regional district did a good job with the project.

“I am happy with the delivery of the product of the end of the day, I think we delivered exactly what the community wanted.”

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Wayne Carson, the electoral area representative for the community, said the residents are now calling for a self-governance study, to see if they would be able to be autonomous from the regional district.

Something he believes should be done as well.

”It gives the community independent information to make a good decision as to where they want to go with their future and that’s what I’m pushing for in the community,” said Carson.

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