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.

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

Just Posted

Ronald Schinners, owner of The Cabbie in the #YYJ, opened his taxi service in the West Shore last month. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
‘One man show,’ The Cabbie in the #YYJ cultivates 45,000 followers on Instagram

New taxi company brings unusual spunk to the West Shore

West Shore RCMP say police presence in Esquimalt Lagoon Saturday was not related to the shooting death of a 37-year-old man in Metchosin Friday night. (Black Press Media File)
West Shore RCMP says presence in Esquimalt Lagoon Saturday was not related to death in Metchosin

Police continue to investigate what they describe as ‘targeted incident’ in death of a 37-year-old man

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Zahra Rayani-Kanji of Heart Pharmacy, Sidney Pharmacy manager James McCullough, and Naz Rayani, owner and founder of Heart Pharmacy, join sisters Becky Brigham and Judy Costanzo outside the business. Sidney Pharmacy has become the sixth Heart Pharmacy outlet in Greater Victoria after its purchase from Brigham and Costanzo. Their parents, Frances and Jim Brigham, first opened the business in 1959. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney Pharmacy changes ownership, but retains family tradition

First opened by Frances and Jim Brigham in 1959, Sidney Pharmacy is now part of Heart Pharmacy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has in the past warned of Öffnungsdiskusionorgien (translated as an orgy of discussions about openings), one of one of the 1,200 words added to the German lexicon as reported by the Leibniz Institute for the German Language. (Michael Kappeler/Pool via AP)
German lexicon grows by 1,200 words, many inspired by COVID-19 pandemic

Öffnungsdiskusionorgie (orgy of discussions about openings) among new entries

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read