Okanagan Falls Incorporation Study

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ANNOUNCEMENTS: The next Incorporation Study Committee meeting is May 28, 2024. Click here to view the agenda; instructions on how to participate remotely are posted below.


INTRODUCTION

In 2021/22, the RDOS undertook a Services and Boundary Configuration Study for Electoral Area "D," supported by a community volunteer Committee. At the end of the Study, the Committee recommended that RDOS ask the B.C. Government to fund an Incorporation Study for Okanagan Falls.

In the fall of 2022, the RDOS Board of Directors requested an Okanagan Falls Incorporation Study. The B.C. Government approved the Study in spring 2023, based on a defined incorporation study boundary. Over spring and summer 2023, RDOS hired a consulting team to undertake the Incorporation Study, and established a community volunteer Committee to ensure that the Study is objective and thorough.

The purpose of the Incorporation Study is to provide electors within the study area with the information and understanding required to make an informed decision on incorporation.

At the end of the Study (early 2025), the community Committee will recommend to the RDOS Board whether to request that the Minister of Municipal Affairs order a referendum on incorporation of the Okanagan Falls area.

The RDOS Board will consider the Committee's recommendation along with the Study findings and decide whether to hold a referendum on incorporation.

TIMELINE

  • The Incorporation Study will run from fall 2023 to early 2025.
  • NOW: The first half of the Study will consist of research and analysis about implications of incorporation on local services, taxation, and governance.
  • The second half of the Study will consist of community conversations about these implications and opportunities for electors to ask questions.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: The next Incorporation Study Committee meeting is May 28, 2024. Click here to view the agenda; instructions on how to participate remotely are posted below.


INTRODUCTION

In 2021/22, the RDOS undertook a Services and Boundary Configuration Study for Electoral Area "D," supported by a community volunteer Committee. At the end of the Study, the Committee recommended that RDOS ask the B.C. Government to fund an Incorporation Study for Okanagan Falls.

In the fall of 2022, the RDOS Board of Directors requested an Okanagan Falls Incorporation Study. The B.C. Government approved the Study in spring 2023, based on a defined incorporation study boundary. Over spring and summer 2023, RDOS hired a consulting team to undertake the Incorporation Study, and established a community volunteer Committee to ensure that the Study is objective and thorough.

The purpose of the Incorporation Study is to provide electors within the study area with the information and understanding required to make an informed decision on incorporation.

At the end of the Study (early 2025), the community Committee will recommend to the RDOS Board whether to request that the Minister of Municipal Affairs order a referendum on incorporation of the Okanagan Falls area.

The RDOS Board will consider the Committee's recommendation along with the Study findings and decide whether to hold a referendum on incorporation.

TIMELINE

  • The Incorporation Study will run from fall 2023 to early 2025.
  • NOW: The first half of the Study will consist of research and analysis about implications of incorporation on local services, taxation, and governance.
  • The second half of the Study will consist of community conversations about these implications and opportunities for electors to ask questions.
  • Committee Meeting #5 - May 28, 2024 @ 6pm

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    The next Committee meeting is May 28, 2024 at 6pm. The meeting agenda can be viewed here.

    Among other things, the Committee will hear about:

    • How taxes would compare between incorporation and remaining part of RDOS Electoral Area "D",
    • The Provincial Offer of Assistance, which is the financial assistance the Provincial Government would offer Okanagan Falls if the community were to ultimately pursue incorporation,
    • A proposed seven-year budget for a potential Okanagan Falls municipality, and
    • How a referendum and incorporation would proceed

    The Committee meeting will take place in person at the Okanagan Falls Recreation Centre (1141 Cedar Street) or you can attend remotely. To participate remotely, please click on the following link and use the following ID/passcode if prompted:

  • Roads in Okanagan Falls

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    Currently, local roads in Okanagan Falls are owned by the provincial government and managed by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. There are almost 34 km of roads (excluding Highway 97) in the Incorporation Study Area, as well as two bridges, drainage infrastructure and road signage.

    As part of the Incorporation Study, engineering consultants (Urban Systems Ltd.) conducted a Road Investment Review that assessed the physical condition of road surfaces within the Study Area and found that 11% are in good condition, 78% are in fair condition, and 11% are in poor condition.

    If Okanagan Falls were to incorporate, local roads in the Study Area would become the responsibility of the new municipality. The municipality would have the power to change local road maintenance standards, plan capital road works, and give priority to walking and cycling. A new municipality would evaluate whether to have its own public works and roads crew or to contract the service out (or a combination).

    The Road Investment Review, along with analysis on all the other local services, will help the Committee understand the costs and benefits related to potential incorporation. The Committee has one more meeting in May before the engagement phase where we will share the Study analysis and information with Okanagan Falls residents through mailouts and community events.

    You can find the full Road Investment Review in the April 16, 2024 Committee agenda.

  • Refresher: Study Timeline & Participants

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    Confused about who's doing what and when the Incorporation Study wraps up? These two visuals will give you a quick summary of the Study timeline and participant roles. Click on each image to open the document.


  • Committee Meeting #4 - April 16, 2024 @ 6pm

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    At the next Committee meeting on April 16, 2024. The meeting agenda can be viewed here.

    At this meeting, Urban Systems will attend to provide an overview and answer questions regarding the Roads Investment Review. This Review was prepared to: 1) assess the current condition of Okanagan Falls’ roads, and 2) estimate the budget that would be needed if Okanagan Falls incorporated to sustain the current service levels for road maintenance and renewal.

    In addition, the Committee will review information about sewer, water, policing, and municipal administration under an incorporation scenario. The technical consultants will answer any questions about the Communication & Community Engagement Strategy.

    The Committee meeting will take place in person at the Okanagan Falls Recreation Centre (1141 Cedar Street) or you can attend remotely. To participate over Zoom, please use this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84806468399?pwd=S2Vld1ZITE42YUhQbDAwOEFrM0VWQT09

    • Meeting ID: 848 0646 8399
    • Passcode: 125804
  • Seven-Month Study Update

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    We are now seven months into the approximately year-and-a-half long Okanagan Falls Incorporation Study. Here's a recap of what's happened so far:

    • In summer 2023, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) hired technical consultants to analyze the financial and service implications of Okanagan Falls remaining as part of Electoral Area “D” or incorporating into a new municipality. RDOS also established a volunteer Committee of community members to impartially and objectively review the consultant’s Incorporation Study analysis, and, at the end of the process, to recommend to the RDOS Board whether to pursue a community vote on incorporation.
    • The technical consultants have been doing detailed calculations to compare local government services that Study Area residents get now, what they cost now, and whether those services and their costs would change under incorporation.
    • The Committee and technical consultants have met 3 times to review the consultants findings. There is another Committee meeting on April 16, 2024. Committee meetings are open to residents to attend in person or online.
    • All materials that have been reviewed by the Committee are posted on the website and can be reviewed by the public - this includes meeting agendas, video recordings of Committee meetings, and Service Sheets (technical findings). Most documents are posted under the "Documents" tab on the right-hands side of this webpage.
    • Rick Wilson, the Chair of the Study Committee, has published a monthly Incorporation Study update in each edition of Skaha Matters since October 2023, and will continue to do so during the remainder of the Study.
    • Starting this summer and into fall 2024, there will be numerous events and written materials sharing Study findings with the community.

    Have a question? See this article on how to post questions and have a member of the project team respond.

  • How to Submit Questions about the Incorporation Study

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    Do you have burning questions about the Incorporation Study? You are invited to post questions and the project team will respond.

    To submit a question, click on the "Questions" tab next to the "News Feed" tab directly underneath the "Introduction" article at the top of this web page.

    Then, fill in your question in the open text box and click "Submit."

    Your question will be sent to the project team to prepare a response. It will take 2-3 business days for your question and a response to be posted on the "Questions" page.

  • The Importance of a Neutral Committee

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    Members of the Incorporation Study Committee are often asked "are you for or against incorporation?”

    However, Committee members are committed to staying neutral, reviewing information in an objective way as it becomes available, and asking questions.

    At no point during the Incorporation Study will Committee members declare support for or against incorporation. The Committee’s role is to support an unbiased process that culminates in a Committee recommendation for or against a community vote on the matter. For the Committee, the question is not whether Okanagan Falls should incorporate, but whether Okanagan Falls should hold a vote on incorporation.

    Once all the technical findings are out in mid-2024, Committee members - and Okanagan Falls residents - will know: under incorporation, would my taxes change? Would I have access to different or improved services? How would a municipal council work?

    When the Study findings are complete and have been shared with the community, the Committee will collectively determine whether it supports a community vote on incorporation, and will recommend to the RDOS Board of Directors whether to pursue a referendum.

  • Committee Meeting #3 - February 5, 2024, 6:00 pm

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    Click to watch a video of the February 5 Committee meeting or view the February 5 Committee minutes.


    The community Committee is made up of 10 Incorporation Study Area residents who guide the work of the technical consultants. They remain neutral about incorporation and ensure that technical work is thorough and unbiased.

    The third meeting of the Committee is taking place from 6:00-8:30pm on Mon, Feb. 5, and the Committee will be reviewing this agenda.

    While meetings are working sessions between the Committee and the technical consultants, residents may attend. At the end of the meeting (around 8pm), residents will be asked if they have any questions or comments on agenda items. Residents may attend the meeting in person, online, or by phone using the details below:

  • Happy Holidays from the Incorporation Study Committee

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    The Okanagan Falls Incorporation Study Committee wishes you a happy holiday!

    The Committee and technical consulting team are taking a short holiday break. We will resume posting Study updates to this webpage in early January 2024. Check back for new updates soon!

  • What are Service Sheets and Why Should You Read Them?

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    During the research and analysis phase of the Okanagan Falls Incorporation Study, Service Sheets are one of the key products being prepared by the consulting team. Service Sheets summarize the current state of each local government service that is currently provided to Study Area residents. They then go on to describe anticipated impacts of incorporation for each service.

    Service Sheets are being developed between November 2023 to March 2024. Each Service Sheet is presented in draft format at an Incorporation Study Committee Meeting to give the Committee an opportunity to ask questions and clarify details. Following Committee discussion, Service Sheets are finalized and posted on this website.

    Once all the Service Sheets are complete, they will provide a full picture of impacts to all services and enable readers to compare the current situation with an incorporation scenario.

    If you want all the details, these Service Sheets are for you!