Our History

The Process of Incorporation

West Kelowna was officially incorporated as Westside District Municipality on December 6, 2007. A Mayor and six councillors were elected to represent those living and/or owning property within the municipality.

In 2008, the municipality's name was changed to District of West Kelowna.

On June 26, 2015, West Kelowna was reclassified from District Municipality to City. Premier Christy Clark announced that West Kelowna had become British Columbia's 51st city.

Prior to December 6, 2007, the area that is now the City of West Kelowna was part of a rural electoral area governed by the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) and the Province of British Columbia; and, three elected representatives from the Westside Electoral Area sat as directors on the 12-member RDCO board to speak for citizens on the west side of Okanagan Lake.

For many years the topic of incorporating the west side of Okanagan Lake into a stand-alone municipality was discussed at RDCO and provincial tables and at the community level. Three previous attempts at incorporation occurred:

  • A process in 1974, which ended before a referendum could occur
  • A 1980 referendum, which resulted in 87% opposing incorporation
  • A 1993 Westbank-only incorporation referendum, which was defeated by 66%
June 2007 Referendum

A June 16, 2007 referendum decided the governance question. Taxpayers voted 84% to change from regional district rural governance to municipal status, and 51.1% were in favor of incorporation over amalgamation with the City of Kelowna.

The referendum was the culmination of the work of the Westside Governance Committee, a 12-member committee with six representatives elected at a community meeting and six appointed by Westside Electoral Area directors. This core group was joined by twelve ex-officio members representing the Westside improvement districts, RDCO Directors, City of Kelowna Mayor and Council, and the Westbank First Nation Council. Their valued work produced a close scrutiny of the different governance options available, presented in an 8-week public education initiative leading up to the referendum.

Four months after the referendum, area residents were participating in the first election campaign for a mayor and six councillors. On November 17, 2007 residents elected then Mayor Rosalind Neis and then Councillors Doug Findlater, David Knowles, Gord Milsom, Duane Ophus, Heather Pilling and Carol Zanon. To learn about the current Mayor and Council, please go to Mayor and Council.

Mayor & Council

The first Mayor and Council were inaugurated on December 6, 2007 in a ceremony attended by Hon. Ida Chong, former Minister of Community Development, now retired MLA Rick Thorpe and many dignitaries from neighbouring jurisdictions. The Letters Patent officially declared “Westside District Municipality” as an incorporated municipality and Council was given the option to change the name at a later date, if it so chose.

Council set the stage for a quick transition from the previous government by establishing its first Strategic Priorities in 2008, with two key goals to be kept in mind—fiscal responsibility and public consultation.

November 2008 saw the municipality’s second election with Mayor Doug Findlater elected. Council conducted an opinion poll on the name of the community in conjunction with the Nov. 15, 2008 election of Mayor and Council. The opinion poll indicated a majority (82%) of Westside residents wanted a new name for the municipality with “West Kelowna” gaining the most support (48%).

On Dec. 9, 2008, Westside District Council approved the new name “District of West Kelowna” and the Letters Patent were officially changed by the Province of BC on January 29, 2009.

On January 13, 2015, West Kelowna Council authorized staff to initiate the legislative process to change the municipal designation of West Kelowna from a District Municipality to a City. Among the initial required steps was electoral approval, which was achieved May 11, 2015. On June 26, 2015 Premier Christy Clark announced that the provincial government had approved West Kelowna becoming British Columbia's 51st city. The Letters Patent were revised to reflect the new classification.

Goals & Priorities

For more information on Council's objectives for the District of West Kelowna, please visit Strategic Priorities.