Amalgamation question not a high priority on West Shore

General lack of support for putting question on 2014 ballots

Amalgamation doesn’t appear to be on the minds of many in the West Shore.

With local elections approaching in November, municipalities across Greater Victoria are deciding whether to include a question on the ballot that would gauge voters’ interest in pursuing further some form of regional amalgamation.

Langford Coun. Lanny Seaton hasn’t heard a peep from city residents.

“I haven’t had anybody phone me and say ‘Hey, this is a burning issue for me and Langford,’” he said. “I can’t speak for the rest of council, but I don’t think anybody’s even considered it.”

City of Victoria council voted to put a question on its ballot, while Oak Bay and Central Saanich councils  rejected the idea. Even the Capital Regional District decided not to ask member municipalities to include the query.

Throughout the West Shore, there seems little interest in exploring the issue, though the Town of View Royal is now leaning towards including a question. With a general atmosphere of support around the table, according to at least one councillor, View Royal’s committee of the whole recommended that town staff look into options for doing so.

“The general consensus was some sort of question should go on the ballot,” said Coun. John Rogers. “So that’s interesting.” The trick, he said, is to make sure the right question is asked.

Rogers said most agreed the question suggested by non-profit group Amalgamation Yes, “Are you in favour of reducing the number of municipalities in the Capital Regional District through amalgamation?” is too broad and potentially leading.

Colwood turned to residents for input on including a ballot question, but a callout for people to serve on a focus group looking at the issue produced only a handful of responses.

Nonetheless, applicants will be interviewed starting this week and the callout remains open.

Mayor Carol Hamilton said it’s best to get a sense from the community whether or not a question concerning amalgamation is desired, to avoid potentially spending money on something nobody wants.

Council has voted in favour of having a question, but Hamilton said if it turns out the public interest isn’t there, it may not happen.

“We’re cautious about budget implications on things, but we want to ensure that if this is the direction the general populace wants to start taking things, then how do we get there?”

Out in Metchosin, Mayor John Ranns expressed a similar sentiment, noting that if residents aren’t interested in amalgamation, why spend the money to explore it?

“We’ve had absolutely no interest from the public,” he said. “There hasn’t been a single indication that anybody wants to see this on the ballot.”

If public support isn’t forthcoming, Ranns can’t imagine the district will go ahead with a question. While he isn’t entirely opposed to the idea of amalgamation, he said the province should never impose it in any form without first hearing from the public.

“I do believe that amalgamation done right can have positive benefits,” he said. “But amalgamation done wrong is going to be far worse than what we have now.”

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

UPDATE: Tsunami warning ended for Greater Victoria

Homes in Colwood near Esquimalt Lagoon were evacuated after tsunami warning for coastal areas of B.C. after 7.9 earthquake off Alaskan coast

Support growing for palliative care facility on the West Shore

Dave Saunders says facilities ‘bursting at the seams’

Royal Bay student bound for Swaziland

World College admission brings surprise destination

Greater Victoria under another wind warning this morning

Strong southeast winds will reach speeds of up to 80 km/h in Greater Victoria

Bob Heyes back behind Shamrocks bench for 2018 season

Art Webster, Mike Simpson, John Hamilton will also return

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

Guillermo del Toro film about merman romance earns 13 nominations

Canada, TPP agrees to revised deal without the United States

Canada and the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to a revised trade agreement

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Rogers Media cuts ties with Vice Canada

Rogers Media and Vice Canada are ending their three-year-old partnership, pulling Viceland TV channel off the air

Tsunami warning prompts evacuations in Port Alberni

Alaska earthquake prompted warning for coastal BC

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Most Read