This is in response to “Province setting stage for amalgamation study,” in the July 24 Saanich News.
Yes, Mayor Atwell and council did meet with Community Minister Coralee Oaks. However, contrary to Mayor Atwell’s comments in the above article, Saanich council did not meet to discuss the province’s intention to go forward with an amalgamation study.
The invitation from Minister Oakes stated “I am writing to invite you and council to meet on the issue of governance and services in the Capital area. I feel it is important to hear from all local governments on this matter so I can understand how to support a conversation in governance and service integration in the Capital area.“
Council members had the opportunity to discuss the ballot question posed to the voters in the 2014 election. The meeting concluded with council requesting terms of reference for the proposed provincial study, costs and participants. Minister Oakes stated that the first step would be to create the memorandum of understanding. Council did not make a commitment.
Saanich was among eight Greater Victoria communities to include a ballot question. However, Saanich’s question was not in support of moving ahead with amalgamation discussions. Saanich’s question was “Do you support council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the region?”
Saanich’s community-based review is underway. The first draft has been presented to council and the public. It is expected that the final draft will be presented to council by the consultant in September. Saanich is moving forward on their ballot question work.