Council is moving ahead with plans to test public support through a referendum this f on future amalgamation talks. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Saanich pushes ahead with plans for referendum on future amalgamation talks

Saanich is moving ahead with plans to hold a referendum in the fall that would test public support for future amalgamation talks — not amalgamation itself — with Victoria.

Citing council’s previous decision to establish a citizens’ assembly on the subject of amalgamation in collaboration with interested parties (which so far only includes Victoria), Saanich now has to follow through, said Coun. Colin Plant.

“I don’t think council has another choice if it wants to be legitimate in its decision-making,” he said, as council voted unanimously to endorse a recommendation from Mayor Richard Atwell. He and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps had previously met with provincial staff to discuss plans for a citizens’ assembly into the subject.

Specifically, Atwell recommended a joint meeting with Victoria city council to “determine which question both local governments” would place on the Oct. 20, 2018 municipal election ballot to measure support to “explore the costs and benefits” of amalgamation.

“If we start spending public money, we need the concurrence of our community,” said Coun. Susan Brice.

Monday’s vote has several practical ramifications. First, it will increase the cost of the upcoming municipal election. Second, it means that Saanich and Victoria will not be able to strike a citizens’ assembly into the subject of amalgamation until after the fall of 2018, assuming Saanich and Victoria can agree on a common question and voters in both communities give their approval.

Coun. Karen Harper, who had already expressed reservations about a pre-referendum, raised this point. “This is a slower stop forward than many would like,” she said.

Coun. Fred Haynes also raised the point that amalgamation cannot be the pre-determined outcome of this process. The process must also remain open to outcomes other than amalgamation, he said.

The ball now lies in the court of Victoria and with the municipal election less than six months away, time is becoming a factor.

“There is limited time to do it,” said Atwell.

If so, council also heard from Saanich resident Katherine Whitworth, who urged council to think very seriously about this process, if not pump the brakes, entirely.

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

Just Posted

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Saanich bylaw sparks EV charging infrastructure requirements in new builds

All new developments to be EV-charger compatible starting Sept. 1

Summer program helps Greater Victoria teens sharpen writing skills

Registration for the program runs until Aug. 17

Langford cuts red tape, engages in random acts of kindness to uplift spirits

‘I Am Langford’ campaign promotes supporting local

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

Most Read