Osoyoos water councillors face elimination
By ROY WOOD
Osoyoos seems intent on proceeding with a plan that could lead to the elimination of water councillors on the town council.
And the change in Osoyoos could have implications for the water councillors in Oliver as well.
There are two spots on each of the two councils for water councillors, who are elected from the rural area and participate in discussions and votes on water-related matters.
At Monday’s regular meeting, Osoyoos council approved first reading of a bylaw that would move the regulation of providing water to residents of the Osoyoos rural area into something called an “extraterritorial service agreement” with the regional district.
Such an agreement would replace the 1989 provincial order-in-council, which created water councillors when Osoyoos and Oliver took over responsibility for supplying water to their adjacent rural areas.
According to Osoyoos chief administrative officer Barry Romanko, once the order-in-council is no longer in play, there won’t be a legislative requirement for representation on council for rural water users. He said the provision of water would simply become another utility, not unlike the sewer system that the town provides some rural residents.
The bylaw will need the consent of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board, which meets this Thursday.
Oliver has not taken a similar action, although late last year -council there- moved to limit the role of its two water councillors to discussing and voting on water-related matters only.
Before that, the water councillors participated in council debates on just about everything. Asked if Oliver might be going to follow Osoyoos’ lead on eliminating water councillors, Romanko said: “I think they’re watching us.”
One of the water councillor spots in Osoyoos is vacant after Kuldeep Dhaliwal was disqualified because of poor attendance. A byelection will be held in the fall to replace him.
The remaining water councillor, Claude Moreira, was the sole dissenting vote on the water governance bylaw.