After seven years as chair of the Regional District of Central Okanagan board, Gail Given plans is ready to step aside.
Given, one of the City of Kelowna representatives on the regional district board, announced at the Oct. 14 board meeting her intent not to seek another chair appointment at the annual inaugural board meeting Nov. 4. She plans to remain on the board as a director.
With the next civic election not until the fall of 2022, her successor will be elected by secret ballot from the existing 13-member board. West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom is currently the board vice-chair.
The board is made up of seven Kelowna city councillors, two West Kelowna city councillors, one representative from Peachland and Lake Country, and two representatives who are directly elected every four years by voters in rural areas on the west and east side of Okanagan Lake.
Given said her reasons for stepping aside as chair but continuing to serve as a board director concern her family.
“I think seven years is a good amount of time to give and I have a lot of family things coming up in the next year that I want to be able to give my full attention,” Given said.
“My daughter is getting married next year and my other daughter is living in Europe and I want to go and spend some time with her.”
Given was elected as board chair replacing long-time Kelowna city councillor Robert Hobson, who had served as RDCO board chair for more than 20 years.
While overseeing operation of the emergency operations centre during the summer fire season is a high-profile responsibility, the regional district also oversees many aspects of Central Okanagan residents’ lives, from providing a regional dog control service to management of numerous regional parks and waste disposal service.
More than 90 per cent of the RDCO’s population base lies within existing municipalities, but Given notes regional district services help provide shared resource costs on many services to the advantage of those communities.
“Absolutely there is a lack of knowing among people what services are derived from whom. Regional districts are one of the more curious governance systems in Canada, unique to B.C.,” she said.
As her era as chair comes to a close, Given reflects on several avenues of progress that she leaves feeling very positive about.
Among them are improved Indigenous relations which have led in part to park creation partnerships, flood risk and management control assessment work, ongoing expansion of the regional district’s parks legacy and memorandum of understandings to help formalize and sustain long-term working agreements with other government levels.
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