Regional board continues discussion over channel trail funding

Oliver rural Director Patton votes against his own motion after more discussion regarding RDOS funding for Penticton channel trail

Oliver rural (Area “C” Director Allan Patton introduced a director’s motion at the September 5 regional district director’s meeting that even he voted eventually voted against.

If the reasoning behind the motion was to incite further discussion regarding the board’s recent decision – to provide $14,000 annually in funding to maintain the trail adjacent to the Okanagan River channel in Penticton – it worked.

The board spent nearly 45 minutes discussing the issue, which previously split the board with a 10 – eight weighted corporate vote at the  August 15 board meeting.

Patton’s motion – to have the regional district enter into a partnership with four Indian bands and six municipalities to maintain all regional trails systems within the RDOS  –  was, in his words, “A reaction, maybe a spiteful reaction but it still makes sense.”

“If we’re all going to be paying for the maintenance of a trail on Penticton Indian Band, Penticton land, we’re not sure, then, really, you have to open it up to everybody,” he told the board.

“The reason I voted against this in the beginning was because I didn’t want to see all our trails budget being devoted to maintenance.” Patton further expressed an interest in seeing more of the trails budget go to capital upgrades and improvements.”

“I’ve had multiple conversations over the past two weeks over this,” said Oliver Director Ron Hovanes, “not one person I spoke to, including rural Oliver that I bumped into, thought this was something they wanted to see their tax dollars go.”

Hovanes noted further that the regional district did not have tenure over,     nor was the channel trail part of the KVR trail, adding that regional district priority was to secure tenure on KVR corridors. Hovanes called it a “sub regional issue” that should be dealt with from that point of view.

Keremeos Director Manfred Bauer sought an opportunity to reconsider the board’s position.

“One of the big issues, here is that it was arbitrary – there’s no policy.

We really need to look at some of the questions that have been raised and not answered,” Bauer said. He suggested that those directors who had voted in favour of the funding could reopen the question by reversing their position, adding that Chairman Pendergraft also had a 30 day period to reconsider the decision.

“There are a lot of unhappy people out there, and I can echo what Director Hovanes said.

I think this was pushed through, and I don’t like it,” he concluded.

Directors Kozakevich (Naramata) and Hopkins (Penticton alternate) implored the board to accept the funding as part of a regional effort, with Kozakevich suggesting that a similar circumstance could arise in any part of the regional district. Director Hopkins objected to the fact that the City of Penticton paid for trail maintenance in the regional district, but received no similar benefit themselves.

Community Services Manager Mark Woods told the board that this year was  the first for the RDOS to have a maintenance budget for trails.

“The Trails Master Plan has upwards of 800 trails that we could work on, but the priorities for us are to focus on the KVR trail because that’s the main spur  that connects our communities – it’s the main hub that people want us to focus on,” he explained to the board.

Area “D” Director Tom Siddon, who was absent from the original debate, I think the kind of  spirit we’ve cultivated here would be better served if we did reconsider,” he said, asking what the $14,000 cost would be if to the adjacent areas if only they were to provide the funds.

“We’d also be subject to some backlash from our constituents who would ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’” he added.

Chief Adminsitrative Officer Bill Newell reminded the board that the adjacent areas would need to create a service area as well in order to provide the funding on a sub regional basis.

“As chair, I don’t plan on bringing this back for reconsideration,and there’s two reasons for it,” declared Chair Pendergraft in final remarks. “Firstly, it passed via the weighted vote, and it would have passed by a standard vote, if it had been unweighted.

A third reason is, if we do not do this we cannot enter into a contract. I see this a better discussion at budget, where we can set something up for those who want to deal with this or pay for this, if it was the three potential areas surrounding Penticton, but there has to be something created or a mechanism in place for us to do this.”

Pendergraft went on to say that he felt most everyone agreed that costs for maintenance on the channel trail should be borne by the three adjacent jurisdictions,, but the disagreement lay in who was paying for it.

Director Hopkins asked for  clarification regarding a mechanism to bring the matter forward again. CAO Newell replied that a director previously in favour of the funding would have to come forward with a notice of motion in order to revisit the issue.

As for Patton’s original motion, it was defeated, with only Director (Area “B”) Bush in favour.