Victoria and Saanich take first steps in considering amalgamation question

Victoria and Saanich take first steps in considering amalgamation question

WATCH: Calvin To has more on what Victoria and Saanich are cooking up in regards to amalgamation. 

On Wednesday, the mayors of Victoria and Saanich met with provincial officials to learn more about the process of amalgamation.

The mayors said they want the process to be citizen-led.

“The information we got from ministry staff today was there needs to be a really detailed process. There needs to be a lot of engagement. Maybe it’s a citizens assembly, maybe it’s something else,” Victoria mayor Lisa Helps said.

Helps said there will be no binding referendum on the issue in October’s election, but there may be a more focused question on the ballot.

“I would like to see the region cooperate better and I’d like to see more efficiencies. There’s a long road to get there. But first, we need to find out what we have in common and what are the differences that we need to protect,” Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell said.

Atwell said the process could take more than two or three years and would involve the gathering of more information on what has happened in Duncan and North Cowichan, as well as Abbotsford and Matsqui.

If amalgamated, Victoria and Saanich would become the largest municipality on Vancouver Island, with a population of 199,940 and a tax base of $240,916,000..

The group Amalgamation Yes is supportive of the idea.

“It’s stunning, I’m sure, to every newcomer, and people like myself, who’ve lived here my whole life, that literally across the street is one municipality and… across the street is another municipality,” said Amalgamation Yes’ chair Shellie Gudgen.

Gudgen said amalgamation would lead to more consistent bylaws and give voters equal representation.

Amalgamation Yes is holding a town hall at Victoria High School on April 25 from 6-9 p.m.

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