Victoria and Saanich councils to discuss amalgamation at meeting

Victoria and Saanich councils to discuss amalgamation at meeting

WATCH: The defeat of the amalgamation decision by Duncan voters this past weekend is not deterring politicians elsewhere. Tonight, the mayors and councils of Saanich and Victoria will meet to discuss the possibility of those two municipalities becoming one. Mary Griffin explains.

Back in 1906, Saanich residents wanted to join Victoria, which was booming at the time.

But Victoria’s council voted no as councillors were worried about the added costs.

But Saanich is trying again, 102 years later.

According to Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell, an amalgamation meeting will take place at Victoria City Hall.

“We’re having our first joint meeting tonight of Saanich council and Victoria council,” Atwell said.

The meeting will focus on amalgamation between the two municipalities.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said residents in both communities will be asked the same referendum question at the ballot box on the Oct. 20 municipal election.

“The question that Richard, and I have come up with together is; do you support a citizen’s assembly to explore the costs, benefits, and disadvantages of the amalgamation of the City of Victoria and the District of Saanich?” Helps said.

This past weekend, the smaller community of Duncan defeated a referendum question about amalgamating with the much larger North Cowichan.

In 2014, two-thirds of Oak Bay residents turned down the prospect of amalgamation. Residents were asked: Are you in favour of the District of Oak Bay being amalgamated into a larger, regional municipality? Yes, or no?

Oak BayMayorr Nils Jensen said residents turned down the prospect because of concerns connected with costs.

“Everywhere you look where there has been amalgamated municipalities, the cost have all gone up. There is no question about that. Time and time again, it’s been replicated. There is no instance where amalgamated communities can save money,” Jensen said.

Four years ago, Esquimalt residents voted for fewer municipalities in Greater Victoria, but Mayor Barb Desjardin said they also wanted to see more integration with services across the region.

“Neither the current government or the former government of British Columbia had any appetite to take any action to occur on this amalgamation, preferring more integration. And so that’s what we’re doing,” Desjardins said.

For Saanich’s mayor, there’s no time like the present.

“I think this is a good thing for us. I think we’ve been looking at it for more than a hundred years. There hasn’t been a referendum on it, on this since 1962,” Atwell said.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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