Mayor Richard Atwell has urged residents to vote in favour of a forum to study the amalgamation of Saanich with Victoria. Depner/News Staff

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell urges voters to vote yes on amalgamation referendum

Referendum will ask residents whether they favour a citizens’ assembly to study amalgamation

Mayor Richard Atwell publicly urged voters to support plans for a citizens’ assembly to study the proposed amalgamation of Saanich with Victoria.

“I encourage you all to vote yes on the ballot, so that we could the answers that we are looking for,” said Atwell during an all candidates’ forum held Wednesday at the Cadboro Bay United Church.

The event organized by the Cadboro Bay Residents Association was the second of its kind and arguably gave the issue of amalgamation more prominent play than the first forum held last week.

When voters voters in Saanich and Victoria elect their respective mayor and councillors on Oct. 20, they will also face the following question on their ballot:

RELATED: Saanich to test public support for future amalgamation talks

“Are you in favour of spending up to $250,000 for establishing a Citizens’ Assembly to explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria?”

Atwell’s direct appeal to voters set him apart from Coun. Fred Haynes and Rob Wickson, who refrained from making such an appeal to voters. Also running for mayor is David Shebib, who did not attend Wednesday’s forum.

While Atwell did not directly endorse amalgamation, he signalled opposition to the status quo in his remarks, in predicting that the citizens’ assembly (if approved) will yield valuable insights.

“We wonder is it [amalgamation] going to save money or not,” he said. “That is up for debate, and that is something that the analysts will figure out. But my common sense tell me, and I think you share this, that this region does not need 13 payroll departments.”

RELATED: Saanich mayoral candidates clash over leadership

Wickson and Haynes did not directly appeal to voters to endorse the ballot question in offering a more neutral position.

Wickson said the pros and cons of amalgamation will emerge out of the citizens’ assembly, if approved.

“It’s not for me to stand here and tell you what the pros and cons are,” he said. “I don’t know until I see the evidence. None of us really knows. I get very frustrated with people, who ‘amalgamation is wrong’ or ‘amalgamation is right.’ How do they know?”

Haynes agreed the assembly, if approved, will reveal the pros and cons of amalgamation.

“You as residents though, as you head into that [vote], you need to be thinking, ‘what are the objectives that you would see as a benefit and what are the objectives that you would see may be as a deficit,” he said.

Citing Toronto’s forced amalgamation as an example, Haynes said that municipality is still not reaping the benefits of amalgamation, because of a failure to clearly identify the goals of amalgamation.

“It’s not on my desk to decide,” he said. “It’s on your desk. But I do say this. Whatever option you choose, I will give you very effective governance, if you elect me as mayor.”

Shellie Gudgeon of Amalgamation Yes endorsed Atwell’s appeal.

“I did not watch the debate but I am supportive of Richard’s comment,” she said. “Let’s get the facts.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Four charges approved in Saanich hit and run that left woman in coma

‘This was a significant crash that caused serious injuries,’ say police

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

Tour de Rock kicks off on Saturday morning

The 22nd annual Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock ride will take two weeks to complete

One-man Frankenstein show coming to Craigdarroch Castle

The Halloween special will kick off at the beginning of October

MISSING: Victoria man Cameron Johnston

VicPD are looking for a missing 36-year-old man

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

‘I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,’ Trudeau said Friday

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

The death of two University of Victoria students on a bus bound… Continue reading

Charges stayed against Alberta RCMP officer in alleged off-duty Whistler assault

Const. Vernon Hagen instead completed an alternative measures program

Most Read