Saanich cautiously wading towards provincial amalgamation study

Council moving forward on governance review referendum question from Nov. 15 municipal election

Council is moving forward on the governance review referendum question that Saanich voted heavily in favour of at the Nov. 15 municipal election.

The decision was made Monday night to draft a letter to Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. By doing so, Saanich would join Victoria, Esquimalt, Sidney, Central Saanich, North Saanich and Colwood, as all have sent formal letters to her office requesting the study, which would be non-binding and examine several models of regional integration. Saanich and Langford were recently called out for delaying an interest in the provincially funded study of Capital Region amalgamation.

“It was a robust conversation, we want to know what the financial costs will be and if terms of the study will assess the potential impact on Saanich,” said Coun. Fred Haynes, who seconded the motion put forth by Coun. Colin Plant.

Saanich was criticized at the time of the municipal election for dodging amalgamation in the referendum and calling for a governance review.

But Haynes, in his first term on council, defended the decision on Tuesday.

“There is a range of values Saanich would like to see in the study but we want to be clear, we’re not asking for amalgamation at this point, that’s only part of the governance review,” Haynes said. “And we want public input, this is a community-led initiative after all.”

Plant is pleased it’s going forward, having amended his motion mid-council on Monday to the approval of his peers. “Yesterday we weren’t writing a letter (to Oakes), today we are,” Plant said. “At the next committee of the whole meeting there will be public input, and I hope we’ll be willing in principle to participate in an amalgamation study.”

The next committee of the whole meeting is either June 15 or 22.