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Group launches petition for amalgamation question on 2014 ballot

The Capital Region Municipal Amalgamation Society has officially launched a petition seeking support from Greater Victoria residents who want to see a non-binding amalgamation question on the municipal ballot in 2014.

John Vickers, spokesperson for the society, also known as Amalgamation Yes, says they want to collect 100,000 signatures from residents who want to have a democratic voice.

"We've been having this discussion for too long. Even those people not necessarily for amalgamation, a lot feel it's time the people had their own say in a non-binding way to get a sense (of where the region's population stands on) how we're governed," he said. "Our position is that regardless of the views of some of the mayors of the region, all we're asking for is to allow the people of their municipality to  have the democratic right to, in a non-binding way, simply express their view on this issue."

The petition asks that the following question be put on the ballot in each of the region's 13 municipalities during next fall's election: Are you in favour of reducing the number of municipalities in the Capital Regional District through amalgamation?

Vickers stresses that the question isn't about being in favour of amalgamation, it's about exploring the possibilities of amalgamation.

The City of Colwood in July already pledged that it will gauge their residents' thoughts on amalgamation in the coming election.

"What does it mean to people in the community?” asked Mayor Carol Hamilton of what they hope to learn in the process. “What do they think it will achieve if that were to take place? Is there an interest even in doing it?”

This fall Colwood will launch its own group to look at public consultation options. Hamilton expects it will take six to eight months of open houses and surveying the community to get a sense of public opinion.

Vickers says Amalgamation Yes aims to spend fall and winter engaging residents in the petitioning and public consultation process. That will include public meetings and forums, canvassing neighbourhoods and setting up information booths at events.

He says the group hopes to acquire their 100,000 signatures by spring 2014, as they'll still need to bring the petition to the 13 municipalities before the election in hopes of getting the question on each ballot.

To view the petition, ipetitions.com/petition/amalgamationyes.

– with files from Kyle Wells

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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