Local governance

Another Governance Referendum in Saanich?

Feb 09, 2017 Editor

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter

A hint was dropped on Feb. 9 when the 12-member Saanich Governance Citizens Advisory Committee public engagement process was launched it may result in another public vote at the next municipal election on Saturday Oct. 20, 2018.

It will be up to the committee, making its recommendations to council,” said Mayor Atwell. “It’s possible there may be another referendum. There are no promises.

Mayor Richard Atwell was asked at a press conference – also attended by committee members and community association representatives – if the recommendations of the committee to council after public input this year might find their way onto the ballot in 2018.

He replied that he didn’t know if there would be another ballot. “It will be up to the committee, making its recommendations to council,” said Mayor Atwell. “It’s possible there may be another referendum. There are no promises.” He said Saanich council wants to hear “the community’s views on how we can further optimize our governance approach and processes.”

At the 2014 municipal election, residents voted 88 per cent in favour of this question: “Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the Region?” The question avoided the word “amalgamation” leading supporters and opponents of the idea of a municipal merger to vote “Yes.”

Because the referendum question dealt with “our partnerships within the Region” residents outside Saanich will be able to participate in the public process, it was reiterated. But they will be asked to disclose their address and their responses will be segregated from Saanich residents, said advisory committee chairperson John Schmuck.

He also said there have been and will be some informal private meetings – “coffee chats” – with individuals and groups – he mentioned youths and First Nations – that may be private. This was part of public facilitation for everyone. The committee has organized two public Town Halls, two public workshops, there will be an online survey and this email address – saanichgovernancereview@shaw.ca – for written comments from the public. He hoped the public input would be concluded by May 31 with a report and recommendations to council this fall.

The committee has heard from groups and individuals at its monthly meetings last year and these meetings will continue. Details including agendas and minutes are on the District of Saanich website.

You can find SVO’s previous news story on HERE.

HERE is the official Saanich announcement.