PENTICTON - Plans for a regional economic development fund came to a sudden end at last week’s regional district board meeting.
Directors at the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen voted to rescind and abandon a new economic development bylaw at last Thursday’s regular board meeting.
West Bench Director Michael Brydon spearheaded the effort to create a new fund last February, citing the need for the board to be more transparent when dealing with annual funding requests for grants such as those made by the Okanagan Film Commission.
The board’s present grants-in-aid policy favours one-time grants, but the board has perennially funded a grant request to the Okanagan Film Commission, which Brydon said was, in reality, economic development funding. He felt the board needed to be more open about the grant, calling it an item 'hidden away in a 526-page budget,' at a board meeting earlier in the year.
Regional District Chief Administrative Officer Bill Newell says the economic development service bylaw failed to receive the majority support required to proceed with the bylaw.
“Rather than leave the bylaw dormant at second reading, it’s cleaner to rescind,” he says.
Newell says without the economic development fund bylaw, there is nothing to stop any group from approaching member municipalities of the regional district individually, or have existing sub-regional economic development services participating as well. Newell says future requests for multi-year funding will likely be asked to apply for a grant through the individual municipalities, electoral areas and sub-regional programs within the makeup of the regional district.