Meeting aims for new conversation about amalgamation

Greater Victoria residents are invited to join in Feb. 7 on a different kind of discussion about regional amalgamation.

Greater Victoria residents are invited to join in Tuesday (Feb. 7) on what organizers hope will be a different kind of discussion about regional amalgamation.

The “conversation” aims to avoid the pro- or anti- factions in this hot-button topic.

Finding speakers that are open to the shades of grey, however, is proving difficult, said co-organizer Shellie Gudgeon. If none are found, the event will morph into more of a cafe-style discussion.

“Probably six months ago, if you asked me if I was for amalgamation, I would have said yes,” said the new Victoria city councillor.

Through her election campaign and first few months on the job, however, her perspective has changed through talking to many passionate people.

“What I learned is that this in not a black and white issue,” Gudgeon said.

“We picked the word amalgamation after much debate …. We could have talked mergers or integration or working together, but I don’t think it would ignite the public like the ‘A’ word.”

On the table, however, is a discussion about all sorts of options for joining forces — not necessarily erasing municipal boundaries.

Instead, she sees Victoria pointing fingers at the rest of the region for not contributing to regional problems centered in the downtown core. She also sees suburban municipalities pointing the finger right back, complaining the city reaps all the business taxes.

“It’s an excuse in my humble opinion,” said Gudgeon.

“A conversation about amalgamation” is at S.J. Willis school, 923 Topaz Ave., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 7 to 9 p.m. Entry is free.

Check out www.greatervictoriaamalgamationconversation.eventbrite.com