BAllot Question"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?"
Is this an amalgamation referendum?
No. The question at hand is not whether the municipalities of Victoria and Saanich should amalgamate, but rather whether the prospect of amalgamation should be systematically examined through a Citizens’ Assembly.
If the Citizens’ Assembly recommends in favour of amalgamation there would be a binding referendum question put to the citizens of Saanich and Victoria and the citizens would decide.
Why vote yes for the Citizen’s Assembly?
The proposal on the Victoria and Saanich municipal ballots is directed at studying, for the first time, the pros and cons of amalgamating these two municipalities.
With regional planning and transportation challenges affecting affordability and quality of life, Greater Victoria is struggling with growth as it becomes a major metropolitan area.
Efforts to gather the necessary data to make an informed decision has long been held back by political self-interest. This is one of the reasons why Mayor Atwell and Councillor Harper participated in the formulation of an arms-length process where citizens of both municipalities, not politicians, will decide.
This is an exciting development where a majority of citizens in both municipalities who vote in favour of establishing an assembly will be the ones who analyze the data and make the recommendations, one way or another.
All five United for Saanich candidates are in favour of getting the facts about amalgamation. That said, we will respect the results of the ballot question, no matter the outcome.
How did we get here?
During the 2014 election, the District of Saanich asked residents:
“Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structures and policies with Saanich and our partnerships within the region?”
YES: 21,437 votes (88.5%)
NO: 2,780 votes (11.5%)
In response, the Governance Review Citizen Advisory Committee (GRCAC) was established by Council to conduct an independent review and report back in Fall 2017. The Governance Review Report, which was presented to Council in October, 2017, noted:
“The Province offers the opportunity to partially fund a governance (incorporation) study prior to a referendum in affected municipalities. In the municipalities of Duncan and North Cowichan, the two jurisdictions opted to pursue a Citizens’ Assembly as their form of governance study, which was 1/3 funded by the Province provided they included a technical report on amalgamation along with the Assembly process. In the absence of a thorough study on the issue in Saanich, such an Assembly appears to be the best way to move forward on the question of amalgamation.”
In their report, GRCAC recommended the following:
Given the many views expressed regarding amalgamation, Saanich should take a leadership role in establishing a consensus about amalgamation, through the following recommended actions:
1. Call on the Province to establish and fund a Citizens’ Assembly on Amalgamation with interested municipalities in the Greater Victoria Region and actively support and participate in the Assembly.
On June 26, 2018, Saanich Council approved the following ballot question: “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?”