Amalgamation shouldn’t be a scary word.
No one is taking an eraser to the Capital Region map and removing the borders that separate your municipality from those of your neighbours.
Often the discussion around amalgamation tends to drift towards the hypothetical best-case scenario (or worst-case scenario, depending on who you ask) of creating one municipality that spans from Sooke to North Saanich.
Talk of such a drastic change usually derails any objective discussion.
That’s why the concept needs to be reframed. We need to get away from arguing about hypothetical borders and specific solutions and focus on studying amalgamation as a positive step for our region.
Amalgamation Yes is taking the right approach by focusing on getting a referendum question onto the 2014 municipal election ballot. Put the question to the residents of the 13 municipalities and see if there’s an appetite to explore the option of amalgamation.
Municipalities have nothing to lose by asking the question.
The overarching goal of amalgamation is to save money by finding efficiencies in service delivery and by removing redundancies.
What the end result would look like in Greater Victoria is still unknown.
Proponents and opponents can point to Halifax or Abbotsford or Toronto and pick and choose their facts to back up their positions. But until we have a case study that properly examines the ins and outs of amalgamation as it relates to Victoria, no interest group, organization or politician can offer a definitive solution.
Until something concrete happens, the conversation isn’t going to move forward in a meaningful way.
Instead, people will continue to speculate about the potential successes and hazards of amalgamation, without a sound understanding of its local impact.
Change can be scary. But looking at amalgamation as a potential option to save us time and money shouldn’t be feared.
Links to Black Press series on amalgamation: