Coun. Colin Plant tempered expectations about amalgamation during Monday’s council meeting.

Coun. Colin Plant tempered expectations about amalgamation during Monday’s council meeting.

Saanich councillor tempers amalgamation talk

Coun. Colin Plant publicly tempered expectations about amalgamation during Monday’s council meeting.

Speaking before council ratified a recommendation asking the provincial government to establish a citizens’ assembly on amalgamation, Plant cautioned the public against reading too much into this decision.

“I think people in the audience may think that means Saanich residents are ready to do it [amalgamation], and that this council is endorsing it,” said Plant. “I think what we are endorsing…is having this process take place. I don’t think Saanich is particularly in a place where all we are waiting for is for our citizens to discover this. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a very difficult conversation that occurs.”

Council, he said, made a “very bold decision” in asking the provincial government for a citizens’ assembly on amalgamation. The recommendation first appeared in the final report of the governance review citizens advisory committee (GRCAC), and council’s committee-of-the-whole agreed with it following a public review in December 2017.

A citizens’ assembly is a deliberative forum, which the provincial government defines as an “independent assembly of randomly selected individuals with a mandate to examine an issue over an extended period of time and make a recommendation to the Legislative Assembly.”

Such a forum recommended in May 2017 the amalgamation of North Cowichan and Duncan, set to be decided later this year. Against this backdrop, council’s decision could appear as a precursor to amalgamation.

“But I want to temper the notion that this council is saying tonight, ‘we are ready for amalgamation,’ and all we are waiting for is for the province to fund it and the City of Victoria to sit down with us,” said Plant.

“Because that is not where we are at. Where we are at is establishing a citizens’ forum and for them to have the very difficult discussion about blending two municipalities or more… although I think it would be very difficult beyond us and Victoria.”

Plant’s comments also point to the issues that would be on the high list of any agenda discussing amalgamation. As Plant identified them, these “very serious concerns” include the protection of assets and potential financial abilities.

“I’m not afraid of having the conversation [about amalgamation],” he said. “But I just don’t want to people to assume that we are amalgamating, as soon as this citizens’ assembly gets together.”

Shellie Gudgeon, president of Amalgamation Yes, agreed with Plant’s comments.

“I applaud Colin for setting the record straight on this,” she said. What is needed first and foremost at this stage is data, she said.

“We are delighted that Saanich is taking a lead on pursuing this direction,” she said. “This needs to be addressed. We can and must do better about how we govern ourselves. In order to do, we need information. We need a public process to educate ourselves.”

Council Monday also ratified a recommendation to launch talks about a regional police force.

Just Posted

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

Eric White’s roadside farm stand in Metchosin sits stocked with produce. (Photo courtesy of Eric White)
Fledgling Metchosin farmer frustrated by thefts from stand

Eric White said every dollar made at the roadside helps sustain his farm

Saanich police took a suspect into custody after a store employee on Cedar Hill Cross Road was assaulted Wednesday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Employee assaulted at Saanich store after asking suspected shoplifters to leave

June 16 incident saw worker taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

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

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read