Amalgamation has surfaced in earnest again, as in 1906, 1945, 1956, 1977, 1982 and 1990. Each time, the themes were efficiency and cost savings. Each time, the region’s citizens did not proceed with amalgamation. Instead, we created new municipalities.
The Wednesday, April 17 editorial said, “Until something concrete happens, the conversation isn’t going to move forward in a meaningful way.”
There have been decades of conversation and research, which, unfortunately, have not always gone hand in hand.
While researching the push for amalgamation in the 1990s, I interviewed some of the most vocal proponents and asked them what information or research they were using as the basis for their pro-amalgamation stance.
They told me they had none! They simply “thought” it was the way to go. There was much research on the issue, almost all not supporting amalgamation in a region such as Greater Victoria and much refuting the very arguments used to support it. It was easy to find.
After the 1990s push for amalgamation, a conference on amalgamation brought researchers and practitioners to Victoria. Their conclusions were that amalgamation does not meet the objectives proponents expect and the best route to go is integration of services.
Current research on amalgamations in Canada and Australia still supports the earlier research. It is easy to find.
As for the Amalgamation Yes, as one of my local politics students said, they are hardly objective nor is this about having a conversation. Look at their name: Amalgamation Yes. Their website says their mission is, “to achieve more effective and accountable governance within the capital region through municipal amalgamation.” It also says, “Our goal is to use every means at our disposal to bring about a referendum…”
Let’s really have a conversation and not a predetermined endpoint.