by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter
Saanich council came out in support Monday night of asking the BC government to establish and fund a Citizens Assembly on Amalgamation “with interested municipalities.”
Meeting as committee of the whole with only eight members of the pubic present at the outset, council was given a favourable recommendation both from its earlier Governance Review Citizens Advisory Committee report and by council’s Governance Task Force Standing Committee which reviewed the report.
The 12-member GRCAC was appointed by council and met over 1 1/2 years after a favourable vote to this non-binding question at the November 2014 municipal election – “Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the Region?”
In a summary to council, the Standing Committee stated the GRCAC view this way – “Regional Governance – Amalgamation and Restructuring. Call on the Province to establish and fund a Citizens Assembly on Amalgamation with interested municipalities.”
The Standing Committee, comprised of Mayor Richard Atwell and four councillors, reported back to council, “That the Committee recommends to Council that it consider advocating for this topic with the Province at its discretion.” The recommendation was then approved on Monday night.
In making the approval motion, Coun. Susan Brice said a Citizens Assembly would be a “broad-based arena for the amalgamation discussion to take place. We will have to see whether other municipalities would be interested.”
Coun. Fred Haynes emphasized “with other municipalities.” Coun. Karen Harper said a Citizens Assembly is the right route to go” and followed an up-Island example, referring to Duncan and North Cowichan. “Saanich is indeed an interested party,” she said.
Committee of the whole considered a number of other recommendations from GRCAC and the Standing Committee. It was “fully committed” to the Capital Regional District, will continue to work towards shared services in the region and “support neighbouring communities with Saanich-provided services by agreement.”
As to police, committee of the whole agreed that Saanich should write to all regional mayors to “discuss” the potential of a regional police force, saying Saanich is receptive to a regional police force.
Video of the committee of the whole meeting can be found HERE – the relevant part starts at 4:05.
For more SVO articles on amalgamation and governance go HERE.