Voters in Saanich and Victoria support creation of citizens’ assembly on amalgamation

Group will continue to keep pressure on Victoria and Saanich councils after amalgamation referendum

A spokesperson for a group favouring improved governance says it will encourage Saanich and Victoria to create a citizens assembly on amalgamation in a “timely manner” following the municipal election.

Almost 67 per cent of voters in Victoria and almost 57 per cent of voters in Saanich voted in favour of the non-binding referendum question on their election ballot: “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?”

RELATED: Victoria and Saanich voters elect to move ahead with amalgamation talks

“I am pleased with the community question result,” said Shellie Gudgeon, a spokesperson for Worth The Study. “Now we will encourage the newly elected council to fulfill the mandate from the electorate in a timely manner.”

Gudgeon said she was optimistic that the referendum would pass in both communities. “Our team worked very hard to overcome the [dollar figure] that was attached to the question,” she said. “The voter understood that this cost is worth it. Most importantly both councils now have a mandate to ensure that this is a top strategic priority for the upcoming year.”

The first order of business will be to establish terms of references for the citizens’ assembly, a deliberative forum, which the provincial government defines as an “independent assembly of randomly selected individuals with a mandate to examine an issue over an extended period of time and make a recommendation to the Legislative Assembly.”

Key issues awaiting resolution include among others the size and composition of the forum. When Duncan and North Cowichan — two communities significantly smaller than either Victoria or Saanich — struck a citizens’ assembly, it included 36 members, but Gudgeon suggests it could be 48 in case of Victoria and Saanich.

“However, according to the experts often times more people results in louder voices rather than rational and considered ones,” she said.

RELATED: Saanich council candidates face off for last time in front of 500 people

Other issues include access to outside expertise, timelines and participation of First Nations — in short, plenty of contentious issues, which will perhaps resonate more in Saanich, where voters perhaps heard more concerns about amalgamation than in Victoria, with most concerns centred on the environmental and financial costs of amalgamation.

Several voices including re-elected Couns. Judy Brownoff and Susan Brice, as well councillor-elect Nathalie Chambers have also raised various degrees of concern, if not outright opposition to the concept.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay deputy police chief and family cut Guatemala vacation short to return home

Belize border, punctured gas tank part of the adventure

Program makes a connection with isolated Victoria seniors

Phoning Seniors Together program lines up volunteers with seniors at Luther Court

West Shore businesses bring fitness online during COVID-19

At-home workouts offered to help community keep fit

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Most Read