The Town of View Royal is considering increasing the size of its council from five to seven.
View Royal has more than doubled in size to just under 12,000 residents since the town was incorporated, making it the largest municipality with a five-person council in the province, according to Mayor David Screech.
His hope is that such a move would bring more diversity to council, in terms of people and the opinions held.
“We’ve had a polarized council with a three to two split on most issues,” Screech said. “Bringing in new voices will hopefully break that up a bit.”
He pointed to the high incumbency rate on View Royal’s council, with three of the five members – himself and Couns. John Rogers and Ron Mattson – having held a position on council for more than 20 years.
It’s estimated retrofits to council chambers would cost $50,000 while annual costs for two new councillor salaries and their expense allowances would be approximately $44,000.
Ryan Painter, a Greater Victoria School District trustee and a Thetis Lake area resident since 2019, said the COVID-19 pandemic has weighed heavy on the capacity of municipal governments.
However, he said, “I do think the amount is relatively small and it’s important to note that we are very lucky in View Royal that we are growing, and growing our tax base.”
With a larger and more diverse population, he added, adding more councillors will help ensure those people get represented as View Royal continues to grow.
Not everyone is on board with the idea.
John Treleaven, chair of the Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria, said in a statement that View Royal should be looking at amalgamation with Esquimalt rather than increasing the size of council.
“As if 91 local politicians aren’t enough to govern 425,000 citizens on the South Island, View Royal is considering adding two additional councillors,” he said. “Efficiencies and controlling costs should be a priority for council, not adding to them.”
Looking at other councils across Greater Victoria, Saanich, the largest municipality by area and also population-wise with 114,148 residents, and Victoria, with a population of 85,792, each have nine-member councils. Highlands, the smallest in population with just over 2,000 has seven on council, while Metchosin, with roughly 4,700 residents, is the only other municipality with five members of council.
View Royal residents can have their say about the proposed addition of two councillors at an open house to be held Monday, Nov. 15 at the town hall, 1 View Royal Ave., and online. Visit viewroyal.ca for more information on how to participate online.