WATCH: Voters in Saanich and Victoria will be asked if they favour exploring amalgamation between the two municipalities in the upcoming civic election.
During this year’s municipal election, voters in Victoria and Saanich will be able to vote for more just than councillors and mayors.
There will be an additional question on the ballot concerning amalgamation:
“Are you in favour of spending up to $250,000 for establishing a Citizens’ Assembly to explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria?”
Proponents say amalgamating would lead to improvements in transportation, emergency services and housing.
Shellie Gudgeon from Amalgamation Yes says it would also decrease costs related to issues that cross boundaries, like homelessness and tent city.
“We could’ve shared bylaws. We could’ve shared information between the two municipalities,” she said regarding the responses to the recent tent cities in Victoria and Saanich. “And that money [saved] could’ve gone to something that would’ve helped to house [homeless] people.”
Still, amalgamation could pose challenges.
“A taxpayer in rural Saanich living on a heritage farm might ask him or herself, ‘why is my tax money going toward tourism infrastructure or homelessness or the higher crime rates in the core?'” said Royal Roads political communications professor David Black.
In 2014, at least 80 per cent of voters in both Saanich and Victoria supported exploring the issue further in some form.