There’s apparently no shortage of Osoyoos residents willing to help Town Council determine how best to spend your tax dollars.
It was a packed house last night at the Town Office as Osoyoos Council held what has become an annual component of the budget process.
The special session was a chance for Osoyoos residents to bring pet projects — and peeves — to Council’s attention, explain why their concern is important and ask Council to throw a little money their way.
“I just want to thank you all for taking the time to put together a presentation and come to Council and really just let us know what you’re thinking,” said Mayor Sue McKortoff.
“We feel that this is an interesting way of having people listen to each other, explain to us what it is they are so passionate about and why we should consider it in our budget procedure.”
Presenters representing 10 different groups were each given five minutes to sway Mayor McKortoff and councillors Jim King, Mike Campol and CJ Rhodes (who was listening in from Yuma, Arizona).
Their impassioned pleas for funding included everything from providing for new pickleball courts to cash for upcoming events and improvements at the Osoyoos airport to sewer upgrades in a lakeside community.
The presenters included:
- Local Pickleball enthusiasts — Local pickleball players asked Town Council for $20,000 to renovate an existing West Bench space for use as pickleball courts. The fast-growing sport is popular among local seniors and was touted as a tourist draw as well. The user group is expecting funding from the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen as well.
- Osoyoos Gift Cupboard — Volunteers administering a community gift cupboard (located in front of the Planning and development Office) are seeking $1,200 to help with the cost of supplies delivered for free to cupboard users.
- Osoyoos Lake Water Quality Society — The society, now 25 years old, wants to modernize. It is is looking for $2,000 to make some “important educational upgrades” to its website and print materials.
- Osoyoos Airport Development Society — The largest ask of the evening came from supporters looking for improvements to the Osoyoos Airport. The development society is looking for $48,000 to leverage up to $250,000 in provincial funding to make numerous improvements to the airport property.
- Harbour Key Neighbours — A resident of Harbour Key Drive, which is located off Cottonwood Drive, is looking for sewer and water drainage for what the resident called “the worst road in town for potholes.” Town administration identified road improvement as a $725,000 project that would require a borrowing bylaw.
- Osoyoos Childcare Centre — The Osoyoos home for little people wants to upgrade playground facilities and flooring. It is seeking $4,500 to put down a new resilient surface around the playground and replace flooring that is more than 20 years old.
- Cactus Jalopies — The annual early-June car show, now in its 12th year, came to Council looking for $5,500 to cover the cost of a popular motorcycle thrills show. Cactus Jalopies brought up to 300 signature cars to Osoyoos last June and about 5,000 people to Gyro Park.
- Osoyoos Festival Society — The Society responsible for Cherry Fiesta Days, Christmas Light Up and Easter Eggstravaganza is seeking $9,400 to cover expected additional expenses as Canada celebrates its 150th birthday. The extra $3,400 would cover the cost of decorations, music, float improvements and emergency service costs.
- Desert Park Exhibition Society — The Exhibition Society is planning to erect a Medieval Village the May long weekend and is asking Council for $5,000 to help cover costs. The Village would be an addition to a planned medieval Jousting event the society is scheduling.
- Osoyoos Elementary School PAC — Although not appearing in person, members of the OES Parent Advisory Council made a request for $5,000 to complete a natural elements playground for the school’s lower playground. The playground would combine landscape elements and other site amenities built with natural materials to create play structures.
Council plans to take the information provided by the presenters and add it to the budget discussion.
“This is not a decision-making meeting tonight,” explained Mayor McKortoff. “We’ve already spent one long day going through all of the things that our directors have provided us input on about what they think is important for the Town and we’ll now take what you have to say and look at it in the same light.”