The City of Victoria and District of Saanich have taken the next step in their study of potential amalgamation.
A citizens assembly to study the potential municipal amalgamation was approved in 2018 following a referendum.
However, planning efforts were stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, the two municipalities said the study was back on the table, with a 48-person citizens’ assembly to research the potential benefits and drawbacks of amalgamation.
The volunteer citizens assembly will consist of 27 members from Saanich and 21 from Victoria, based on population from B.C. statistics data.
The members will be chosen by a civic lottery in 2024, with recommendations from the study to be presented before the two municipalities no later than summer 2025.
- Saanich, Victoria amalgamation debate back on the table as citizen’s assembly plan resumes
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On Friday, the two communities said that MASS LBP, a Canadian democracy organization, had been selected to lead the citizens assembly.
MASS has completed more than 50 citizens’ assemblies and reference panels, according to Victoria and Saanich, and was selected after a competitive tender concluded in August.
MASS has staff in Victoria, as well as Toronto, Edmonton and Montreal, and will remain at an “arms-length” from both municipalities to ensure the study’s independence, according to the two communities.
“Twenty years ago, British Columbia hosted the first modern Citizens’ Assembly,” said MASS principal Peter MacLeod in a release Friday.
“We understand that amalgamation is a critical issue for local residents,” he added. “We think the Assembly will provide a valuable perspective while also demonstrating the constructive role people can play in shaping their communities and democracy.”
With files from CHEK News staff