WATCH: The results are in and North Cowichan and Duncan will not be amalgamating after citizens put the idea to rest in a referendum this weekend. At the same time, Victoria and Saanich are gearing up to explore the idea in a combined council meeting this week. Luisa Alvarez has the details.
Duncan residents made their voices heard Saturday in the amalgamation referendum, with an overwhelming majority voting against merging with North Cowichan.
Even after a citizens assembly put forth recommendations to move ahead.
“Amalgamation seems like a simple answer but it’s not,” said Duncan Mayor Phil Kent. “They spoke very clearly and obviously, they identify in a strong way with their city and their community.”
Preliminary results from Saturday?s vote show 68 per cent of Duncan voters were against amalgamating with 835 voting against and 395 voting in favour.
In North Cowichan, 59 per cent of voters were in favour of amalgamating, with a vote of 3,051 for and 2,140 against.
“The vote in favour was the heaviest in the south end of North Cowichan and that’s not surprising, many of those people have a Duncan phone number and a Duncan address even though they are part of North Cowichan,” said Mayor of North Cowichan Jon Lefebure.
Saturday’s vote was the second attempt at amalgamating that’s been shut down after a previous amalgamation vote in the 1970’s.
But Lefebure believes even with these clear-cut results the discussion of amalgamation will likely continue.
“There will always be people that will see advantages to amalgamation and they will probably bring it up again and fair enough circumstances may change people may change,” said Lefebure.
On Monday, the City of Duncan and the Municipality of North Cowichan released voter turnout figures. Twenty three per cent of North Cowichan residents voted in the referendum while 31 per cent of Duncan residents voted.
Meanwhile, Saanich and Victoria may be the next to follow suit in asking residents whether amalgamation is something that needs to be explored.
“At this point we have a lot of rhetoric and not a lot of data we are looking for data and that’s what the question that we hope will be put to the voters in October will lead to a study that will give us critical information that will help us make an informed choice,”said chair of Amalgamation ‘yes’ Shellie Gudgeon.
On Tuesday, Saanich and Victoria will hold a joint council meeting in the boardroom of the Capital Regional District. There they will decide whether they will ask voters if they want to form a citizens assembly in order to explore the costs, benefits, and disadvantages of the amalgamation.