West Bench, Faulder, Okanagan Lake West
I understand Alan. However please recognize two things.
First, the RDOS has tried to get information on this long-running affair out to residents as quickly and accurately as possible. I sent copies of the Letter of Inquiry from INAC to members of the Area F Parks Commission, Advisory Planning Commission, and anyone else I thought might be interested on the evening of the 4 Feb, 2010, RDOS meeting (the meeting in which I first saw the letter). I asked these residents, who are by definition active members of the community, to circulate the news as widely as possible and send me their comments. I posted the INAC letter to this site the same evening and made an explicit request for feedback. I received some feedback and, as it turns out, the KVR page on this site has received several hundred hits (that is, more people have viewed the information on this site than have attended public open houses). All feedback, letters from residents, and petitions were forwarded to INAC with the RDOS response. The RDOS sent out a newsletter and held an open house on the KVR/ATR process in April, which is soon as I felt we had sufficient information on the issue to be in a position to talk about it. Prior to sending out the newsletter, we had its contents checked by INAC in Vancouver to ensure we were not adding to the confusion.
Second, as noted above, the Government of Canada regards this transfer as a legal obligation dating from a 1985 court decision and, as such, not much debate is going to occur (at least around the issue of the transfer itself). I realize that people feel they are not being heard. But at the same time, we must be realistic about our standing in this matter. The PIB and the CPR had a deal that pre-dates any of us and now the terms of that deal are playing out with or without the blessings of West Bench and Sage Mesa residents. Let's face it: we all know (or should know) that our residences border PIB lands. In the same way that the City of Penticton has every right to decide that it wants to charge West Bench residents more to use its pool and community theatre, the PIB should be expected to look after its own interests. I am surprised that people are suprised by this.
The task that remains for the RDOS is to use this an an opportunity to work with the PIB. We want to ensure that both communities have the same vision for the lands along the west side of the valley. We have learned a thing or two in the last 60 years on the West Bench about what works and what does not and we want to share our experiences with the PIB. For example, we are slowly coming to the expensive realization that septic fields on small, silty lots are not a great idea. Both our communities could benefit by working together with the City of Penticton to provide sewer. Indeed, sewer is unlikely to happen without cooperation. It is on issues like this where debate and consultation with residents will be critical. We are just not there yet.
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