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LETTER: View Royal should consider merger with Esquimalt

As if 91 local politicians aren’t enough to govern 425,000 citizens on the South Island, View Royal is considering adding two additional councillors.

The issue comes up for debate at an open house on Nov. 15. Since incorporation the town of about 11,800 has been governed by four councillors and a mayor.

Why did public pushback derail any council expansion in 2002? Is a bigger View Royal council better? Is there more of a profound question to be answered?

Just prior to incorporating in 1988, the merging of View Royal with Esquimalt was entertained but turned down by residents. This is an option that should be considered once again, since taxpayers are struggling with an escalating cost of living and unaffordable housing.

Efficiencies and controlling costs should be a priority for council, not adding to them.

A representative house in View Royal paid property taxes and charges of $3,961 last year, according to the province’s 2021 Schedule 704, Municipal Tax Rates and Burden.

Current budget challenges include sharply escalating RCMP costs as a result of a new union, and sharply decreasing casino revenues as a result of the recent economic downturn.

If View Royal council is to bring in a bylaw it must be made at least six months before the next general local election this fall and becomes effective for that election.

Is this initiative being fast-tracked without full conversation with the taxpayers? There are pros and cons to increasing council size, it’s an unknown process, and there are increased costs to the taxpayer.

There is a one-time cost of $50,000 for changes to the council chambers to make the necessary changes to council with an estimated annual budgetary increase of $44,300.

The South Island has 17 jurisdictions – including 13 municipalities, three electoral districts, and one regional district – multiple police, fire and other services, all administered by 91 local politicians.

Stan Bartlett, past chair

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria