Rekindling the amalgamation conversation

Discussions to take place in February about what amalgamation could look like

The Greater Victoria Conversation on Amalgamation group wants the topic to continue to be talked about around the region, despite the municipal elections being long over.

“One of the frustrations over the last few municipal elections is that leading into the election, (amalgamation) is a number one topic. But immediately following elections, it gets dropped,” said Rod Phillips, a volunteer with the advocacy group.

“After all the work we’ve put in to get the question put on the ballot so we can once and for all get this question answered, we thought we can’t just let it go at just having government doing it the way they typically do it.”

On Feb. 24, volunteers will host a town-hall style meeting to give residents an opportunity to find out more information and continue the conversation.

“We want to ensure that we (bring) the community together as much as possible to bring together all of the various opinions for and against, and more importantly, all those who don’t really know what it’s all about,” Phillips said.

Langford was the only West Shore municipality to hold a referendum on amalgamation. Its yes/no question, the most clearly worded on the topic of the eight listed on civic ballots around Greater Victoria, passed by the slimmest of margins, just 13 votes on a total ballot count of 4,451.

At the meeting, expert panelists will give three-minute fact overviews of eight topics, including transportation, emergency services and governance of municipalities.

Those in attendance will then disperse into groups to discuss those topics, ask more questions and talk about possible solutions.

All questions and ideas from participants and panelists will be recorded and packaged together.

“The goal is to provide effective aggregation of ideas and thoughts and questions, so that it can be provided to (the provincial) government in an appropriate way,” said Phillips.

The amalgamation conversation takes place on Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 5 to 9:30 p.m. at the S.J. Willis Education Centre, 923 Topaz Ave. in Victoria.

For more information on the organization or the event, visit greatervictoriaconversation.ca. To RSVP, go online to http://www.bit.ly/1zP9odQ.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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