Re: Non-binding View Royal referendum on service integration
It is a mark of civic maturity and confidence that Councillors John Rogers, Ron Mattson and Heidi Rast have properly understood the request to have a non-binding referendum question on the ballot this fall.
A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response from residents would provide policy direction only to the municipality. It’s an effective tool for local government to determine the depth of support for integrating services with other municipalities, and serves as a basis upon which the province will fund unbiased studies to determine the feasibility, benefits and costs. Ultimately, any changes to municipal organizations would require a binding referendum in 2018 or beyond.
To date, the cities of Victoria and Colwood have committed to placing a question on the ballot. Others will no doubt follow.
It is most appropriate that council members discuss this issue in an open and transparent manner.
While Mayor Graham Hill has the right to his opinion, his approach to the request at the March 11 committee meeting was paternalistic, and in some instances, cavalier.
This was a disappointment to audience members and those who addressed council in a thoughtful and articulate manner.
Both online and paper petitions supporting a non-binding referendum are currently underway in Greater Victoria and have received thousands of signatures. It should come as no surprise that to date the highest percentage of eligible voters who voted in 2011 and signed the petition are from View Royal.
By placing a non-binding referendum question on the ballot, the democratic rights of residents are affirmed and they are able to exercise their electoral franchise. The mayor and council are servants of the people of the View Royal community, and as such, future deliberations must be conducted in a respectful manner, with community interests placed above self-interest.