by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter
Saanich & Victoria councils will meet as committees of the whole on Tuesday June 26 to discuss the wording of a potential referendum ballot question at the Oct. 20 municipal election on a Victoria-Saanich Citizens Assembly on Amalgamation.
The meeting will be held between 6 and 10 p.m. in the boardroom of the Capital Regional District, Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff told Saanich Voice Online on May 15.
Both councils agreed last January at separate meetings in the same week to call on the BC government “to establish and fund a Citizens Assembly on Amalgamation with interested municipalities.” There has been no estimate of the cost of such an assembly and no commitment by the BC government apart from a reference to Duncan/North Cowichan where those two municipalities and the government shared one-third each in the estimated cost of $145,000 (plus staff time).
At the April 23 Saanich council meeting, Mayor Richard Atwell reported on a meeting he and Mayor Lisa Helps of Victoria had with Municipal Affairs Ministry staff where there was no definitive request for funding. Both mayors supported, in a report to their councils, a joint meeting that would allow discussion of a potential referendum question. HERE is the link to their joint report and correspondence including a letter from Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson.
Saanich council approved a motion, “That Council approve that Saanich and Victoria hold a joint Committee of the Whole meeting to determine which question both local governments will place on the Oct. 20, 2018, general local election ballot.” There was no reference to funding. The vote was unanimous. The Victoria council motion was different – “That Saanich and Victoria hold a joint Committee of the Whole meeting to determine which question both local governments will place on the October 20, 2018 municipal election ballot in order to receive elector assent to explore the costs and benefits of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria.”
The minutes of the April 23 Saanich council meeting summarized the council discussion – “This is an appropriate first step and a discussion worth having. A referendum will give residents the opportunity to vote on whether or not to proceed. The risks and costs need to be provided to residents before a vote. Great care is needed in determining the question to be included on the ballot.”
For previous news stories about this subject go HERE.