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Victoria-Saanich amalgamation discussions won’t be open to the public

The upcoming citizens’ assembly meetings will be held in camera
Victoria-Saanich amalgamation discussions will not be open to the public. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria and Saanich residents will have to wait for details of the amalgamation discussions, as the citizens’ assembly meetings will not be open to the public.

On Tuesday morning Victoria’s citizens’ assembly council committee – comprised of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Coun. Ben Isitt, Coun. Jeremy Loveday and Coun. Geoff Young – began to hammer out the terms of reference for the upcoming assembly. The terms of reference will act as a guide for the assembly, which will be comprised of 96 Victoria and Saanich residents.

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Within the discussion Isitt asked if the meetings will be open to the public, or broadcast online.

“No,” said Helps. “We can debate the merits of that, but all of the other citizens’ assemblies that take place take place in a way that is safe, and in a way that doesn’t have the public looking on… the public has the opportunity to participate in other ways.”

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‘Other ways’ could allude to a fairly even distribution of citizens’ assembly meetings and public comment meetings, though exact numbers have yet to be determined.

The meetings will also not be open to the media, though the committee clarified wording in the terms of reference to allow for both the assembly chair to act as an official spokesperson, and individual members of the assembly to be free to speak with the media about their own opinions.

Once both the Victoria and Saanich standing committees are done going through the terms of reference, the decisions will be taken to the respective municipal councils. The standing committees will then come together in a joint meeting to make sure everyone is in agreement, before both councils ratify the decisions. After this, municipal staff members will make a request to the province for funding for the citizens’ assembly before any official amalgamation discussion meetings take place.

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