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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

National Drug Drop-Off month aims to reduce substance abuse by house-bound youth

Expert says there is misconception prescribed medication is safe to take

Victoria mayor wants newspaper boxes removed from downtown streets

Mayor Lisa Helps says the boxes are not needed, often filled with garbage

Esquimalt artists take to great outdoors amid coronavirus

Group invites budding, or just willing artists, to join at Saxe Point

Victoria church to ring bells for 75th anniversary of atomic bombings

Bells expected at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6 and 11:50 a.m. on Aug. 9

VicPD find used, uncapped needle tied to handrail in Beacon Hill Park

Officers believe the needle was put there with the intent to harm someone

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Plane crashes into Nelson supermarket parking lot

Pilot and passenger have minor injuries

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

Woman arrested near Nanaimo beach after alleged road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

Most Read