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Province wants to see amalgamation details

Jul 17, 2018 Editor
Before it considers funding a study

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter

Victoria and Saanich must first provide detailed amalgamation/Citizens Assembly proposals – and then the BC government will consider any application for provincial financing. And – this will happen after the Oct. 20 municipal election..

This was made clear on July 17 when Saanich Voice Online (SVO) asked the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for comment on the decision by Victoria and Saanich councils to place a non-binding question on the ballot at the Oct. 20 municipal election to each electorate –

“Are you in favour of spending up to $250,000 for establishing a Citizens’ Assembly to explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria.”

Both councils have been hoping for the Province to be a further one-third contributor in the cost of financing a Citizens Assembly to study an amalgamation of Victoria city and Saanich municipality. But a staff report to Saanich council on July 9 made clear there has been no financial confirmation “to date” by the BC government. That remains the case.



SVO asked the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to comment on the decisions by Victoria and Saanich councils and received this reply – the operative paragraphs are highlighted:

“The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has been in contact and provided information to the municipalities of Saanich and Victoria in response to their interest in potentially establishing a Citizens’ Assembly on Amalgamation.

“We understand that the councils of Saanich and Victoria have taken steps to include a non-binding ballot question for their respective electorates regarding an amalgamation study, in conjunction with the 2018 local elections.

“If the new councils and voters from both municipalities share a desire for an amalgamation study, there is opportunity to discuss specific proposals. These proposals would provide detailed plans for how these municipalities would proceed in the best interests of people in their communities, including things such as the nature and scope of the study, the process, and engagement with the public and other stakeholders.    

“When the municipalities agree on a proposal, their councils may then jointly apply for a funding contribution from the province to a complete a study. At that point, the Ministry will review the proposal and consider next steps. A grant for a study is contingent on the availability of funding, other commitments already in place and the framework for such grants established by regulation.

“In the meantime, Ministry staff are always available to provide further information if local governments are interested in learning about processes related to governance/services studies.”

SVO will post any comments received by Saanich and Victoria councils.

UPDATE

Saanich Voice Online has received no comment from Saanich and Victoria councils in response to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing statement regarding any provincial funding for a Victoria-Saanich Citizens Assembly on Amalgamation. However, Saanich Coun. Vicki Sanders did comment on her FB — “IMO This is why Saanich Council felt it important that the cost be included in the ballot question.”

Updated on July 20, 2018