As required by the Local Government Act, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Chief Election Officer has released the Declaration of Official Results for the Incorporation Assent Voting in Sorrento and Blind Bay.
The results indicate that residents, based on the projected impacts, do not believe that incorporation is in the best interest of the community at this time. Residents clearly prefer to remain unincorporated within an electoral area.
The vote count is unchanged from the preliminary results.
Assent vote breakdown:
|Advanced voting - April 20, 2022, Shuswap Lake Estates Community Hall||50||690|
|Advanced voting - April 20, 2022, CSRD Office||7||37|
|General Voting, April 30, 2022, Sorrento Memorial Hall||53||418|
|General Voting, April 30, 2022, Blind Bay Memorial Hall||149||791|
|Total number of valid votes cast||272||2,027|
Based on the result of the vote, the CSRD will now proceed with the default option of dividing Electoral Area C into two separate Electoral Areas, each to be represented by its own elected Director. This will take place as part of the October 15, 2022 General Local Government Elections.
A new governance option
In February 2019, the Minister of Municipal Affairs 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 Study was kicked-off later that year.
The primary purpose of the Incorporation Study is to provide the electors of Sorrento and Blind Bay with the information and understanding they need to make an informed decision on incorporation.
The Incorporation Advisory Committee focused on overseeing a detailed, objective and technical examination of the incorporation option and its implications for residents in the proposed area. Implications associated with the default option, which would divide the existing Electoral Area C into two separate Electoral Areas, have also been examined.
With the results in hand, the Committee presented all information to local electors. The committee held its final meeting on March 2, 2022 to discuss the possibility of a referendum on the subject of incorporation. At that meeting, the committee voted in favour of a recommendation to proceed to a referendum on incorporation. This recommendation was forwarded to the CSRD Board of Directors for discussion at the Regular Board Meeting of March 17, 2022.
The CSRD Board reviewed the Committee's recommendation and the Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study Report. The Board then voted unanimously in favour of recommending a referendum be conducted on incorporating the proposed area of Sorrento and Blind Bay as a new municipality.
The Committee was responsible for ensuring that voters have the information they need to assess the options and make an informed choice. Click on the Community Engagement Overview button below for details regarding the public information events. The Information on the Options button will take you to a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, a listing of the various Service and Issue Sheets created by the Committee, sample Property Tax Notices, and copies of all mailouts, presentations and other information materials produced for the community.
Incorporation Study Boundaries
The boundaries for the Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study Area and the default Two Electoral Areas scenario were developed through a Boundary Analysis Study commissioned by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs in 2018. Coming out of the Analysis, and based on a recommendation by the CSRD Board of Directors, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs adopted two optional boundaries that were presented for consideration.
The boundary, titled Sorrento-Blind Bay, is shown in the interactive maps (see below). The map for the Two Electoral Areas option is also shown.
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.
The recommendation from the CSRD Board to undertake an incorporation study did not identify a specific incorporation area. To address this need, the Ministry commissioned a Boundary Analysis in 2018. The Analysis created four separate restructure scenarios for consideration:
- 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 recommended a preferred boundary. The recommendations were based on an assessment of quantitative and qualitative data, driven by a set of factors which included the geographic extent of current service areas, population density in the area, OCP designations and settlement areas, road networks, property assessment values, farmland and lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve, and others.
The assessment of the options pointed to the potential incorporation of a new municipality comprised of both Sorrento and Blind Bay as the preferred incorporation scenario. The incorporation of a Sorrento-Blind Bay Municipality would remove the combined population of these communities (4,700) from Electoral Area C, which would, in turn, reduce the population served by one CSRD electoral area director from 7,900 to 3,200 residents.
The Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study Area map developed through the Boundary Analysis is identified in the accompanying link. This map was endorsed by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs as the Study Area for the Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study. Soon after the Incorporation Study began, however, the Incorporation Study Committee and the Ministry received requests from residents in the Hendrickson Road and Hilltop Road neighbourhoods to be excluded from the Study Area. Following a careful consideration of these requests, the Committee recommended changes to the Study Area boundary to approve most (but not all) of the requested exemptions. In June, 2021, the Minister of Municipal Affairs accepted the Committee's recommendation and endorsed a new Study Area boundary. This new boundary, titled Sorrento-Blind Bay (Amended June, 2021), is also shown.
If incorporation is not chosen by the electors within the new Sorrento-Blind Bay Study Area, Electoral Area C will automatically be divided into two separate electoral areas. The new map for this Two Electoral Areas default scenario can be viewed by clicking on the link below.
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.
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.
Please note that meetings were paused between February 2020 and October 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A group of nine citizens from Sorrento and Blind Bay has been formed to guide a study looking into the possibility of incorporating the two communities into a separate municipality.
The committee’s role is to be an objective fact-finding and oversight body, ensuring all stages of the study, including the community consultation process, are conducted in a neutral and balanced fashion.
The committee will be active until the conclusion of the Incorporation Study report. Originally the study was to be submitted to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs by February 28, 2021, however, due to the COVID-19-related delays, it is now expected to be submitted by early 2022.
The committee members include:
- Brian Butcher (Blind Bay);
- Rose Fritz (Blind Bay);
- Sandra Heschuk (Sorrento);
- Lorrie Kelsey (Blind Bay);
- Darlene Lincoln (Blind Bay);
- Michael Shapcott (Sorrento);
- John Smith (Blind Bay);
- Larry Stephenson (Blind Bay).
- Electoral Area C Director, Paul Demenok, is a non-voting, ex officio member of the Committee.
The communities of Sorrento and Blind Bay are within the unceded territory of the Secwépemc Nation, specifically the caretaker area of the Little Shuswap Lake Band, Neskonlith Indian Band, and Adams Lake Indian Band. The province and the CSRD are currently working with these Indigenous communities to better understand cultural heritage resources in the area and develop a framework for government-to-government engagement. The Indigenous communities and the province are also jointly exploring opportunities for strengthening cooperation and collaboration between local governments and Indigenous communities.
Deputy Manager, Corporate Administration