Sictoria? Vaanich? The official Victoria-Saanich amalgamation discussion is finally set to begin

Nearly six years after residents of Saanich and Victoria voted to have an independent body study amalgamation, the process of creating that body is finally underway. 

For decades, there has been discussion — and even non-binding referendums — about combining some, or all, of the 13 municipalities in the Greater Victoria region. 

Some people believe it would be more efficient, and cost-effective, to have fewer local governments. 

Now, invitations are in the mail to join a citizens’ assembly that will consider the pros, cons and costs of amalgamating the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria, the region’s two most populous municipalities. 

A citizens’ assembly is a body of randomly selected residents that meets regularly to study an issue and then prepare a report and a recommendation. 

It is co-ordinated by an arm’s-length organization but paid for by governments: in this case, $250,000 each from Victoria, Saanich and the province of British Columbia. 

Previous citizens’ assemblies in B.C. have looked at amalgamating the Vancouver Island municipalities of Duncan and North Cowichan, and changing the province’s electoral system. 

In both cases the assemblies recommended change, but the ideas were rejected by the public in referendums. (Residents in North Cowichan did vote to amalgamate, but Duncan residents voted against, so the issue died.) 

Members of the Victoria-Saanich Citizens’ Assembly will meet for eight Saturdays between this September and next April. 

They’ll learn about how each municipality works and will then issue a recommendation: to amalgamate or not. 

If they recommend amalgamation, the issue could go to a referendum for residents. 

The citizens’ assembly, and the concept of amalgamation, are the topic of the most recent episode of the CBC podcast This is Vancouver Island.

Listen to how assembly members will be selected, why organizers think it’s worth volunteering, and some of the arguments for and against combining Victoria and Saanich.

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This is Vancouver Island is a podcast from CBC Victoria. (CBC )

Tune into This is Vancouver Island every Tuesday on CBC Listen or wherever you get your podcasts.


Posted in CBC