By ROY WOOD
As expected, Councillor Dave Mattes cast the deciding vote this evening in favour of Oliver council asking the federal government to hold a referendum on the question of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan.
The vote came after Mayor Martin Johansen used a provision of the Community Charter to bring back a motion that failed on a tie two weeks ago when Mattes was absent.
Johansen and Councillor Aimee Grice once again voted in favour, both indicating that they believe the residents of the area should have a voice in the decision.
Councillor Petra Veintimilla, who again voted against the motion, referred to the Parks Canada’s survey of public opinion on the issue: “There is a way for people to be part of the conversation.”
She added, however, that she would support a motion for a referendum if it included some timing guidelines for a referendum. Chief administrative officer Cathy Cowan pointed out that a motion up for reconsideration cannot be amended.
Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger continues to believe that council needs to remain neutral on the entire national park issue and that endorsing a referendum may be seen as taking sides.
The mayor reiterated that, “All we’re doing is saying that people should have a voice in the decision.”
The resolution reads: “That Council direct staff to prepare a letter requesting the Federal Government to undertake a referendum in the South Okanagan-Similkameen area on the creation of the National Park Reserve.”