Community News Local governance

Municipal Governance: Saanich has Questions for BC Government

Jun 10, 2015 Editor

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen journalist

Saanich council will press the BC government for answers about any “study of governance in the region” after reworking a motion from two councillors that had used the term “amalgamation study.”

 At its meeting on May 25, 2015, Coun. Colin Plant moved and Coun. Fred Haynes seconded a motion “That:

” a) Saanich write a letter to [Community, Sport and Cultural Development] Minister Coralee Oakes indicating our willingness to participate in a provincially funded amalgamation study. The letter will be developed by Mayor and Council with the assistance of staff; and

“b) Prior to drafting the letter, residents will be invited to a public meeting to provide feedback for Mayor and Council as to what should be included in the letter.”

After three amendments, two of which were successful, the following motion was approved without dissent:

“Motion as Amended:

“1. Saanich write a letter to Minister Coralee Oakes indicating our willingness, in principle, to participate in a study of governance in the region, dependent upon the Terms of Reference and nature of the study proposed. The letter will be developed by Mayor and Council with the assistance of staff; and

“2. Prior to drafting a letter to Minister Coralee Oakes, residents will be invited to a public meeting, to be scheduled at the earliest opportunity, to provide feedback for Mayor and Council as to what should be included in the letter.”

The minutes of the council meeting can be found on the Saanich website – Public input is on

pages 6 and 7 and council’s debate is on pages 9 to 12.

 In a statement to Saanich Voice Online on April 24, 2015, Oakes also did not use the word “amalgamation.” She said:

“The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development is in the process of considering how best to proceed regarding the results of the referenda in the Capital Region.

“The Ministry sees an opportunity to support a conversation on governance and service integration and has heard from some Mayors and Councils but needs to hear from others to gauge interest and better understand how to collaborate on this goal.

“Decisions about potential next steps will come out of the Province’s considerations and future discussions between local governments and the provincial government.”

Oakes elaborated at the BC legislature on May 6, 2015. She referred to “this conversation on governance and services” and stated: “That conversation can’t solely be focused on amalgamation as a solution. It needs, instead, to have a broader dialogue about governance and service integration so that all municipalities can be involved.”

She repeated previous comments including that the BC government is “considering how best to proceed.” She was quite clear on this: “The province will not impose a particular approach or a solution to the capital region.”

 Last November, Saanich voters approved a non-binding referendum, which avoided the word “amalgamation.” It asked: “Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the Region?” The referendum carried 21,437 votes to 2,780 from an eligible 80,986 voters.

Council is waiting for a staff report before commencing the Saanich governance review.

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For more on this subject please enter ‘amalgamation’ and/or ‘governance’ in the SVO search function.