A look at Okanagan Landing's history and how it became part of the City of Vernon

How Landing joined city

This spring marks 30 years since Okanagan Landing was annexed into the City of Vernon.

Before April 1993, Okanagan Landing composed Area A of the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Back in the early 1890s, when Vernon was only a sleepy cowtown, the Landing was a hub of activity.

It served as both the terminus of the Shuswap and Okanagan spur line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the most northerly steamship port on Okanagan Lake.

Although the last steamship on the Lake, the SS Sicamous, was retired in 1936, ship repairs continued at the Landing until the 1960s.

Once the land was decommissioned, it was purchased by the Okanagan Landing and District Community Association.

Discussions as to the future of Electoral Area A began as early as the 1970s and '80s. The question was whether it was best for the area’s residents to maintain the status quo, join the City of Vernon, or incorporate as a new municipality.

A referendum on the question of incorporation was held in 1986, but residents did not vote in favour.

The discussion of annexation came to head again in the early '90s.

With permission from the regional district, the City of Vernon offered the Landing a series of incentives for annexation, including a moratorium on significant tax increases for a decade, and the installation of multimillion-dollar sewer and water service infrastructure.

The issue was extremely divisive among Landing residents, all of whom were ultimately concerned with the future of their community.

On April 3, 1993, a referendum was held at Okanagan Landing Elementary School.

A few days later, the results were declared: 58 per cent of residents who turned up to vote were in favour of annexation.

In June 1993, the City of Vernon officially applied to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to annex Okanagan Landing, and thus the largest municipal restructuring in B.C. in more than 20 years was complete.

– Gwyneth Evans is head of archives at the Museum & Archives of Vernon

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