by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter
The lobby group Amalgamation Yes (Capital Region Municipal Amalgamation Society) brought its campaign for a study of – and amalgamation of – Central Saanich, North Saanich and Sidney to a public Town Hall on March 3 at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney.
Seventy-five people turned out for the event including Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell. Absent were Mayor Steve Price of Sidney and Mayor Alice Finall of North Saanich who earlier declined an invitation to attend as well as Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor. But several councillors from the three municipalities did attend. (See earlier Saanich Voice Online story). Also present was Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and The Islands.
The meeting was moderated by John Treleaven, first vice-chair of Grumpy Taxpayers of Greater Victoria, a lobby group for lower taxes.
Mayor Helps spoke of the “alignment” of Victoria and Saanich councils which passed resolutions two months ago calling on the BC government “to establish and fund a Citizens Assembly on Amalgamation with interested municipalities.” So far no municipalities have joined Victoria and Saanich. Helps said she has written the government and sought a meeting but without a response.
Amalgamation Yes Chair Shellie Gudgeon, a former Victoria city councillor, said she is surprised at the polarization of the amalgamation issue. She did say that eliminating the Capital Regional District is impossible and rather than trying to create one single amalgamated city that three municipalities – the Saanich Peninsula, the urban core, and West Shore – plus the CRD – is the “preferred starting point” of her group. She appealed for “agitation” and volunteers to push the idea ahead – “We need to get a momentum going.”
An Amalgamation Yes brochure circulated at the meeting said: “One proposed amalgamation model is three municipalities: Peninsula (Sidney, North Saanich, Central Saanich); Core City (Oak Bay, Victoria, Esquimalt, Saanich, and View Royal); and Westshore (Langford and Colwood). However, any model is subject to cost benefit analysis and ultimately a binding referendum.”
Most of the meeting was taken up with a presentation including Q&A by Maeve Maguire, a North Cowichan councillor, and Mona Kaiser, a member of the Duncan-North Cowichan Citizens Assembly and its work. Residents of Duncan and North Cowichan are expected to vote in a referendum later this year on amalgamation.
You’ll find a video of the meeting HERE
More on meeting here:
The Case for a Saanich Peninsula Municipality Amalgamation Study (by Amalgamation Yes)
Duncan and North Cowichan’s Amalgamation Adventure, Sidney meeting highlights the fact there’s no amalgamation playbook.
Peninsula News Review, March 4, 2018
More on the issue:
Capital Integrated Services & Governance Initiative Report HERE
Past SVO coverage of amalgamation and governance HERE