by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter
The provincial government’s shared services report for the Capital Region will not be released publicly until after the May 9 BC election, Saanich Voice Online can disclose.
The report has been expected to be released for some time including in late March. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver raised it in the legislature on March 16. He said the report has been available since last October and asked, “Could the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development [Peter Fassbender] please explain why this report has not been released and when he is planning to do so.” Fassbender replied, “Indeed, the report is being finalized. It is being reviewed. I have communicated this with the mayors in the region that that report will be brought forward when that final review is done, and then it will be shared publicly as well.”
Weaver commented later, “I was very unsatisfied with the response I received.”.
On March 23, Saanich Voice Online enquired of the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development about the report and was told this in a short statement late Friday (March 24):
“Ministry staff are carefully reviewing the consultants report, which provides an in-depth summary of the broad spectrum of information gathered and analyzed, including input from local governments, stakeholders and citizens.
“As the review will take a number of weeks and extend into the election period, the report will be shared shortly after the interregnum when government is formed. The Minister has been in touch with mayors and the [CRD] board chair to this effect.”
Interregnum? It means, says the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, “An interval when the normal government is suspended especially between successive reigns or regimes.” In other words, “after the interregnum when government is formed” means – after the May 9 election. The Writ that formally calls the election will be “dropped” on April 11 and after that normal government is suspended until after the election.
The BC government announced in June 2016 that two consultants will work with Capital Region municipalities on exploring potential ways to integrate services and government. The announcement made no reference to amalgamation. The consultants are Urban Systems and Circle Square Solutions and Dale Wall, a former BC government deputy minister, is project team leader.
The government announcement then stated, “Recognizing that local governments make their own decisions about integrated services and governance, the [Capital Integrated Services and Government Initiative] will gather facts and facilitate dialogue between local governments. The Province will not impose an outcome. The consultants will also engage stakeholder organizations to gather feedback on perceptions of the issues and opportunities facing local governments in the area.” After the report is released, “local governments in the region will decide on the next steps,” said Fassbender.” This statement has been repeated since June 2016 by the government.