(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich council opts to wait until amalgamation study can take place safely in-person

Victoria council, province must weigh-in on next steps for citizens’ assembly

Saanich council has agreed to hold off on addressing a possible amalgamation with the City of Victoria until a citizens’ assembly can take place safely in-person.

On March 1, council unanimously approved a staff report with a series of recommendations for moving forward with the citizens’ assembly on amalgamation – including that both Saanich and Victoria agree to wait until pandemic restrictions permit members to meet in person and that the number of participants be reduced to 48.

READ ALSO: Saanich and Victoria agree on terms of reference to further amalgamation study

With current COVID-19 restrictions, an in-person meeting with a large number of members would not be permitted, Mayor Fred Haynes explained. This left council to choose between hosting a virtual citizens’ assembly or waiting until it’s safe to meet in the same room. Staff from both municipalities consulted a Canadian firm with experience running similar assemblies, and they were advised against a virtual citizens’ assembly as it would pose many challenges for participating. Saanich council agreed.

Now, the aim is for the assembly to begin discussing possible amalgamation this fall when, hopefully, most people will be vaccinated against COVID-19, Haynes said.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 should not ‘thwart’ review of governance, says Amalgamation Yes

Council also had a lengthy discussion about changing the number of assembly participants. In January 2020, Saanich endorsed the citizens’ assembly terms of reference which stipulated that the assembly would include 75 members – 43 from Saanich and 32 from Victoria. However, based on the consultant’s advice, district staff recommended that the total number of participants be reduced to 48.

An amendment from Coun. Colin Plant to instead look at 50-60 members was considered, but council eventually agreed to move forward with the recommended 48 – a potential ratio of 27 members from Saanich and 21 from Victoria, Haynes explained.

“We want to go full-steam ahead,” he said, adding that pending the will of Victoria council – which will consider a similar report – the next step will be to obtain approval from the province as well as a $250,000 funding contribution.

READ ALSO: Saanich and Victoria will have to wait on money from province for amalgamation study

Once the province has weighed in, Saanich and Victoria would hire a consultant to provide a technical analysis of both municipalities to inform the citizens’ assembly. The assembly members will eventually come to a conclusion and either recommend the status quo or amalgamating Victoria and Saanich.

The process of establishing a citizens’ assembly began following the 2018 municipal election, when nearly 67 per cent of Victoria voters and 57 per cent of Saanich voters agreed to a non-binding referendum question asking if they were in favour of spending up to $250,000 to establish a citizens’ assembly to explore possible amalgamation.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

District of Saanich

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

Just Posted

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

The Latoria South section of the Royal Bay development in Colwood could include a new long-term care facility. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood’s Royal Bay could be home to new long-term care facilities

Capital Regional Hospital District board approves $8M land purchase for purpose

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth gets combative with police at Victoria hospital

VicPD officer injured, youth kept in care under Mental Health Act

A man with a history of sexual offences was arrested after he followed and aggressively tried to talk to two young woman on the weekend. Black Press File Photo
Man convicted of sexual offences arrested after teens followed in Victoria

Women hid in a Quadra Village convenience store as man aggressively tried to get in

A few dozen students and parents gathered outside Lansdowne Middle School April 14 to protest proposed budget cuts to SD61 music programs. From left to right: Lyra Gaudin, Cleo Bateman, Abby Farish, Brigitte Peters, Enid Gaudin, Des Farish. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
SD61’s proposed $7 million cuts threaten equity and inclusion, say parents, teachers

Music classes, inclusion services, reading programs on the line

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

One of the grand prizes for this year's Hometown Heroes Lottery includes a seaside home at SookePoint, $1.5 million, and an Audi Quattro. (Photo courtesy of Hometown Heroes)
Hometown Heroes Lottery features seaside home in Sooke

A stunning seaside home in Sooke could be yours for the price… Continue reading

City workers from Duncan were busy recently putting up street signs in both Hul’q’umi’num’ and English. (Submitted photo)
Hul’q’umi’num street signs installed in downtown Duncan

Partnership with Cowichan Tribes sees English street names twinned with Indigenous language

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

Most Read