Special Notice - COVID-19
As of June 2020, the pause button is being pushed on the Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study process due to restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) will be putting the process on hold at this time, pending changes in the Province's COVID-19 health policy which would allow for a robust and interactive public process on the possibility of incorporation.
No date has been set for the resumption of the process, as this will be dictated by Provincial health policy. Once this happens, the study process will pick up again where it left off and a new timeline will be developed.
A new governance option
In February 2019, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing received and endorsed a request from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) Board of Directors to commission an Incorporation Study for the Sorrento-Blind Bay portion of Electoral Area C.
The primary purpose of the Incorporation Study is to provide the electors of Sorrento and Blind Bay with the information and understanding required to make an informed decision on incorporation. The study will conduct a thorough, objective and technical examination of the incorporation option and its implications for residents in the proposed area. It will also contrast the findings with those associated with the proposed "default option" of dividing the existing Electoral Area C into two separate Electoral Areas.
Of course, there are many questions regarding incorporation and what it may mean to the current residents of Electoral Area C. We have developed a series of Frequently Asked Questions to give you some answers. As the Incorporation Study process moves along, the FAQ document is intended to be an evolving document. It will be updated with new questions and the most current information as it becomes available.
“I hope that all residents in Blind Bay and Sorrento get actively involved in this process and take every opportunity to become thoroughly informed."
— Electoral Area C Director Paul Demenok
The current Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study Area boundary was developed as part of the boundary analysis exercise commissioned by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs in 2018. Based on this review, the Board recommended the Sorrento-Blind Bay scenario, with its associated boundary, for further study through a Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study. The Board also recommended that, in the event incorporation were not chosen, Electoral Area C be divided into two electoral areas using the boundary recommended for the Two Electoral Areas scenario. The Ministry accepted these recommendations. Any change to the boundary must be agreed to, and ultimately implemented, by the Ministry.
To find out more about the boundaries for either the proposed Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation and the Two Electoral Areas model, see our interactive map below:
The Incorporation Committee will be supported in all stages of its work by an independent, qualified consultant who will report to the committee, but was selected by the CSRD. At the September, 19, 2019 Regular Board Meeting, Directors approved awarding the study contract to Neilson Strategies Ltd. for a total cost of $118,500.
Neilson Strategies Ltd. will be responsible for undertaking all research and analysis, for facilitating all community engagement, and for preparing a written report on the potential change to the local government structure, as well as the implications of such a change.
The committee, which will include the Electoral Area C Director, will provide oversight and direction on the study process. Once a report is prepared by the consultant, the committee will present the findings to the CSRD Board and then make a recommendation to the Directors on an incorporation referendum or giving further consideration to dividing Electoral Area C into two separate Electoral Areas. This was supported as an alternative option, should an incorporation process not proceed.
A decision on incorporation would have to get the approval of the electorate through a referendum vote before any change could be made.
This section provides an overview on the process of investigating new governance options for Electoral Area C.
A report, commissioned by the CSRD and conducted independently by Neilson Strategies, formed the basis of the Board's decision on February 21, 2019 to unanimously support making a request to the Province to fund a study examining the potential creation of a new municipality, which would include the communities of Blind Bay and Sorrento.
At the same Regular Meeting, Directors also affirmed a desire for change to the future composition of Electoral Area C. The motion informs the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs that if the Sorrento/Blind Bay incorporation process is not deemed feasible, the Board would then support the division of Electoral Area C into two separate Electoral Areas.
A number of factors were considered when determining the best option including: geographical boundaries, current government services, population density, future development potential, road networks, property assessments and agricultural land.
The option which best met the criteria for consideration for further study by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs was the formation of one municipality comprised of both Sorrento and Blind Bay. This would remove those areas from Electoral Area C, reducing the population served by one elected Regional District Director.
Currently, Electoral Area C is the most populous region of the CSRD. The report notes that based on Census 2016 data, the estimated population for the potential incorporation area is 4,700, comparable with many municipalities in BC. This would leave Electoral Area C with a population of approximately 3,200.
This Boundary Analysis identified four separate restructure scenarios for study:
• incorporation of Sorrento (or portion thereof) as a separate municipality
• incorporation of Blind Bay (or portion thereof) as a separate municipality
• incorporation of Blind Bay and Sorrento (or portion thereof) as a combined, single municipality
• division of Electoral Area C into two electoral areas, each with its own Electoral Area Director.
For each of these scenarios, the Boundary Analysis is to recommended a study area — that is, a potential boundary. The recommendations were based on an assessment of quantitative and qualitative data, driven by the set of boundary criteria. For each scenario, the report identified implications that would be explored further under the full restructure study.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) received Provincial Government funding for a Governance Study in Electoral Area C of the regional district in 2016. The governance study process took more than a year, involving a CSRD-appointed Committee consisting of representatives from various communities within Electoral Area C, along with an extensive public community engagement process.
The purpose of the Governance Study was to:
- Document and assess the current state of governance and service delivery in the South Shuswap;
- Understand the concerns and interests of residents with respect to governance and service delivery;
- Identify future governance and service delivery options for the Electoral Area.
The Area C Governance Committee concluded in June, 2017 with a Final Report and a recommendation to the CSRD Board. In making this recommendation, the Committee recognized that the exact incorporation study area, and the exact boundaries for two electoral areas, would need to be determined. The Committee understands that these questions would be addressed in the early stages of any new restructure study.
Steve Wills, Chair of the Area C Governance Committee, and Allan Neilson, Neilson-Welch Consulting, presented the findings of the governance study to the Board on August 17, 2017. The CSRD Board fully supported the recommendations of the Committee and adopted the following resolutions:
THAT: as recommended unanimously by the Area C Governance Committee at its June 29, 2017 meeting, the Board endorse the following recommendation:
Based on its review of the current governance and service delivery frameworks, the South Shuswap Governance Committee recommends to the CSRD Board of Directors that a restructure study for Electoral Area C be undertaken and that the restructure study examine two options:
- The incorporation of a portion of the electoral area; and
- The division of the current Electoral Area into two Electoral Areas.
THAT: the Board submit a funding request to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, for a structure Study that would examine two options:
- an incorporation study area; and
- a determination of the exact boundaries for two Electoral Areas in Electoral Area C.
THAT: staff be directed to request a meeting with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing at the 2017 UBCM Convention to provide an update on the Governance Study initiative and to request funding support to undertake a formal restructure study.
History of Incorporation Process 1990 - 2015
The question of governance in the Sorrento community has been important to area residents dating back to 1990.
Between 1990 and 2004, there was communication between the CSRD and the Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development on the topic of an incorporation feasibility study for the Sorrento community. A chronology of this timeframe is available here.
At that point, CSRD records indicate that no activity took place on this file from 2004 until 2010. The concept of incorporation was then advanced again in 2010 through the efforts of the Sorrento and Community Association (SACA). They approached the BC Ministry of Sport and Cultural Development with a request for funding to examine the feasibility of incorporation for the community of Sorrento.
Additional background on the efforts involving the potential incorporation of Sorrento between 2010 and 2015 are available through a report from Charles Hamilton, Chief Administrative Officer, which can be viewed here.
Electoral Area C Governance Study Overview - 2017
The first step in the process was to provide opportunities for Area C residents and property owners to learn more about their community and their current system of local government.
The Electoral Area C Governance Study Overview – Getting to Know Area C, highlights important aspects of the local government system in British Columbia, and more specifically, local governance and service provision in Area C.
The Electoral Area C (South Shuswap) Governance Study Interim Report provides a comprehensive view of the overview content.
Below are documents relating to the Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study which began in 2019 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of February 2021.
Below is a series of documents relating to Governance Study Committee Meetings in 2016 and 2017. Here are the Committee Terms of Reference. All meetings were open to the public.
Committee Agendas & Minutes
Below is a series of additional documents relating to the history and progress of incorporation initiatives.