The ongoing conversation over amalgamation has recently and suddenly evolved into a matter at the forefront of matters for municipal councils.
It is being fuelled by strong statistical evidence from an Angus Reid poll. That research showed that 89 per cent of residents polled are in favour of including a non-binding referendum question on the civic ballot this November, inquiring as to whether a regional amalgamation study should be conducted. With only two months until the elections, municipal councils cannot ignore the results of this convincing survey.
The population of the Capital Region District, approximately 350,000, is spread unevenly amongst 13 municipalities, each with its own diverse demography and geography. Given the complex challenges our region faces with sewage treatment, transportation planning, sustainable urban development, etc. the timing for a comprehensive study on amalgamation couldn’t be better.
The recommendations and conclusions of the study may prove to be invaluable to opening a regional dialogue on responsible and effective regional governance and decision-making. Even if the results of the referendum question determine that a study need not be conducted, the important issue of regional governance will receive improved attention and discussion, which can only be beneficial to all municipalities in the region.
The debate over the positive and negative implications of amalgamation should be temporarily set aside, and the positive effects of increased discussion of regional governance and decision-making should be lauded.
Matthew G. Asplin