WATCH: Amalgamation has been a topic of conversation in the Capital Regional for years but those in Duncan and North Cowichan will be the next municipalities to vote on the idea. Kendall Hanson has more.
The City of Duncan and Municipality of North Cowichan could reunify once again.
They each have their respective municipal and city halls, their own mayors, councils and employees but voters will now be asked if they want their communities to join forces.
North Cowichan’s mayor supports the move.
“We would be able to deliver services better and we’d be able to coordinate our planning more efficiently as well,” said North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure.
While the City of Duncan may be the big name in the area it is actually small. It’s fewer than two square kilometres in size with just 5,000 people.
Meanwhile, North Cowichan is larger with a population of 30,000.
The two were actually one until 1912 when downtown merchants split off to form Duncan.
“North Cowichan is significantly larger, it has planners it has public works with a lot more equipment and so on, so there would be some benefits for the whole area having the greater resources of that greater whole,” said Lefebure.
Duncan’s mayor says the current relationship works well.
“With respect to planning and those things it certainly could be done more centrally,” said Mayor Phil Kent. “Although we’ve worked quite collaboratively with North Cowichan over 105 years. We’ve been able to do those things jointly that we’ve needed to do together.”
In May, a Citizen’s Assembly made up of residents from both communities recommended amalgamation.
They found that while it wouldn’t save much in costs, together they’d be better able to manage growth, deliver services and attract outside investment.
“I think the social impacts are also important,” said Kent. “Identity’s important for communities and that’s the kind of dialogue that I hope people have leading up to this.”
Both mayors say what’s important is making sure voters know enough about the move to make an informed choice.
As for what a new joint municipality might be called, that won’t likely be determined until after a referendum makes it necessary.
CHEK News first reported about the municipality’s approving an amalgamation referendum Wednesday.