Oliver’s council of 5 members spent well over an hour Wednesday discussing two subjects – funding for the Oliver Tourism Association and the “once in five year” opportunity to rework/reword the agreement between the Regional District and the Parks and Recreation Society. ( that society has two members, The Town of Oliver and Rural Area C of the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen)
The meeting was called a ‘special open’ meeting but attended by no-one other than the council and ODN.
Oliver Parks and Recreation
The list of council concerns:
Improved wording on ageing infrastructure and capital planning.
Needed repairs and future needs at all structures: – arena, pool and community hall
How the budget process is structured and how proposals can be changed and altered prior to final approval at the regional board- Budget review
Naming right for buildings
Service levels and programming oversight
How the taxpayer is charged – assessed value of land and buildings, or population. Split between rural and town
Councillors want to see a number of pieces of the pie – meaning bylaws, policies etc before meeting Area C Director Rick Knodel at an upcoming meeting
Following the meeting ODN contacted the Manager of the operating society Carol Sheridan for comment as well as the Rural Director.
“The Society is comfortable with the RDOS agreement that is set to expire at the end of this year and I am encouraged to see these governance discussions taking place. The only point of discussion that has arisen to date at the Society table is regarding the “maintenance and repair” clause of the agreement, as the Society does have concerns about the condition of the aging recreation infrastructure owned by the RDOS and would welcome more governance regarding the long term management of those assets.”
Manager, Oliver Parks and Recreation
Area C Director Knodel said he is meeting with council next week and would prefer to wait.
Council was given a report by Administrator Cathy Cowan on some of the history of Tourism management and governance:
“Staff have had an opportunity to research the current funding model that is in place for Oliver Tourism Association to provide the management services of the Visitor Information Centre and
are providing this overview to Council for information. Prior to 2011 the Oliver Chamber of Commerce provided the management services of the Visitor Information Centre and promoting Oliver as the Wine Capital of Canada.
The Town provided funding through the Business Licence revenues for their services. When the Oliver, Okanagan Falls and Osoyoos Chamber of Commerce merged in 2011 and became the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce (SOCC); Council at that time determined that the Town may not receive the same amount of dedication to the Visitor Information Centre as they had prior to the amalgamation of the three Chamber of Commerce’s. In 2011, the Town, Area C, the Oliver Tourism Association and the SOCC explored alternate delivery models for visitor information services.
There was also discussion around a business licence scheme being implemented in Area C and that would also create a sense of equity as all area businesses would contribute equally to tourism services. However, the Regional District does not have the ability to issues business licences.
The alternate delivery model which was implemented in early 2011 resulted in OTA undertaking the management services for the Visitor Information Centre and the current agreement
between the RDOS, Town and OTA was developed. It is my understanding that at this point in time the Town felt it would be benefiting more from the tourism in the area so they continued
to provide the business licence revenues as well as participate in the ‘Joint Service Fee’ through the RDOS Economic Development Bylaw 1978. With the increase in agri-tourism in the area, the benefits of the tourism service could be considered to be equally beneficial to both the Town and Area C, and further discussion around the funding model may be warranted.
Consideration may also be given to approaching the Osoyoos Indian Band to explore funding assistance as the restaurant, golf course, Area 27 and perhaps other businesses are benefitting
from OTA services.”
“The OTA has submitted a request for increased funding from both the Town and RDOS to continue the service agreement to operate the Visitor Centre, further promote tourism initiatives in Oliver and surrounding area and to therefore foster community development in both Oliver and Area C. That request was presented at the Town Council Committee of the Whole meeting on October 28 where the RDOS director was also present. We very much hope to continue this service agreement and funding in the most sustainable and mutually beneficial way possible for all parties.”
Carol Sheridan, director of Oliver Tourism