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Amalgamation Ballot Recommendation

Jun 19, 2018 Editor

From Victoria Mayor Helps, and Saanich Mayor Atwell

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter

Ahead of a joint meeting where the public will provide input, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell have given their councils their recommendation for a non-binding referendum question for the Oct. 20 municipal election.

They recommend that this question be put on the ballot – “Are you in favour of establishing a Citizens Assembly to explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria?”

The committees of the whole of the two councils are set to meet on Tuesday June 26 at the CRD office, 625 Fisgard Street, at 7 p.m. “or a mutually agreed upon date.”

The two mayors also recommend that Victoria and Saanich councils:

  1. Co-develop and disseminate educational information before Oct. 20 as an inclusive election expense;
  2. Direct Mayors Helps and Atwell to write Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson informing her “of the intention to pose a ballot question sharing the wording of the question.” 

Whatever comes out of the joint meeting will go back to Victoria and Saanich councils/committees of the whole.

The joint meeting came up at Saanich council last night (June 18) that was discussing procedures for the joint meeting. The mayors report itself was not on the Saanich agenda nor was it posted on the Saanich website – but it was posted on the Victoria website for a city meeting on Thursday (June 21). HERE is a link to the Saanich council webcast (item K7 on the agenda) for its discussion. HERE is the report by the mayors, from the City of Victoria website.

The two mayors concluded that the Citizens Assembly on Municipal Amalgamation in Duncan/North Cowichan, which has finished its work and an amalgamation referendum will be held on June 23, “exists as a model from which to base a Citizens Assembly specific to Saanich and Victoria. However, for any such initiative to be successful, it is essential that a clearly-defined objective be established from the start and one approach to ensure this would be to establish a joint steering committee, post-election, to develop a terms of reference and budget for the assembly.”

After a non-binding referendum on Oct. 20, if a majority of votes cast in Victoria and Saanich support going ahead, a joint steering committee of elected officials and senior staff from both municipalities would be established. This committee would be empowered to develop a clear proposal for a citizen-led assembly process and budget with terms of reference for studying “the costs and benefits of amalgamation of Saanich and Victoria.” The proposal would then be forwarded to Robinson “requesting that the province co-fund a Saanich-Victoria Citizens Assembly.” The cost of any Victoria-Saanich Citizens Assembly – and any cost-sharing – is not known at this time. The Duncan-North Cowichan Citizens Assembly cost $155,000 (plus staff time) split three ways between the municipalities and the BC government.

HERE is the link to the last Saanich Voice Online story on this subject which contains further links.