Saanich and Vic­to­ria ex­plore amal­ga­ma­tion

The Daily Courier - - BC - By VIC­TO­RIA TIMES COLONIST

The may­ors of Saanich and Vic­to­ria are en­cour­ag­ing cit­i­zens to get ed­u­cated about amal­ga­ma­tion as the two mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties ex­plore the idea.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell and Vic­to­ria Mayor Lisa Helps are craft­ing a brief joint re­port for their re­spec­tive coun­cils after meet­ing with Min­istry of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and Hous­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives last week. The may­ors re­quested a meet­ing to dis­cuss the es­tab­lish­ment and fund­ing of a cit­i­zen’s as­sem­bly on amal­ga­ma­tion and were told by the prov­ince what next steps they could take.

“We’ll brief each of our coun­cils in pub­lic on the meet­ing we had and ask them what next steps we want to take to­gether,” Helps said.

Dis­cus­sions about amal­ga­ma­tion have in­volved var­i­ous con­fig­u­ra­tions of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the cap­i­tal re­gion, but Helps said both coun­cils have asked for a process in­volv­ing Vic­to­ria and Saanich. Some­times, the first steps are the most im­por­tant steps, Atwell said on Fri­day.

“In the 100 years of talk­ing about amal­ga­ma­tion, there hasn’t been much that’s been an of­fi­cial step other than the ref­er­en­dums held back in the ’50s and ’60s,” he said. “So, this is an op­por­tu­nity for this gen­er­a­tion . . . to play a role, and un­til there is an of­fi­cial role to play and an of­fi­cial process to par­tic­i­pate in, I en­cour­age res­i­dents to in­volve them­selves in com­mu­nity dis­cus­sions on­go­ing right now.”

Helps said the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will take clear steps in the next few months “and po­ten­tially in the next elec­tion, in terms of an­other ques­tion on the bal­lot — very spe­cific but not bind­ing. But we’ll let our coun­cils give us di­rec­tion be­cause it has to be led by the coun­cils.”

Atwell con­curred: “If we achieve ask­ing a ref­er­en­dum ques­tion on the next mu­nic­i­pal bal­lot, we need to have the same ques­tion — the coun­cils have to be in synch, the pub­lic needs to be in synch, the staff need to be in synch.”

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