Current projects show need for amalgamation

Re: Arguing about the “a” word (Comment, Feb. 18)

It seems that every time the word amalgamation is uttered anywhere in the Capital Region, the immediate response is “oh, that won’t work.”

What people mean is, “it won’t work here.” Well, news flash – having 13 separate municipalities and a couple of electoral districts vying for services and trying to be independent of one another isn’t working either.

It’s time to grab amalgamation by the throat and have a good close look at it. There are places where it’s been tried, and it hasn’t worked – that could be true. Or maybe, parts of it have worked, and others haven’t.

If you’re looking for what doesn’t work, it’s easy to find it. But it must have worked somewhere, or good portions of the plan have worked. So why not look for what went right? And look for what went wrong, figure out why, and not make that same mistakes.

We can no longer do nothing. That’s becoming more and more clear. Just as one instance, consider the ongoing struggles around constructing a good transportation plan that works for all. One of the reasons nothing is going forward is that we have two separate entities working on separate plans – the regional transit group and the E&N Rail group. What’s needed is one overall commission working on all types of transportation for the entire South Island, and that commission should work with another like body for the Central and North Island areas.  Too much is being done piecemeal.

The transit commission recently went to the Capital Regional District Board with its plan for the coming year.

In that plan, taxpayers would see a rise on their property tax bill of around $28 (per household), and the transit authority would be reducing the existing bus service by 10,000 hours. Their idea was to balance this year’s budget, then come up with a plan to increase ridership (which is down) in coming years.

That’s ridiculous. There is no guarantee there would be a plan (Transit hasn’t acted on developing a transit corridor in the City of Victoria), and offering less service guarantees less ridership. Plan first, then put your hand in the taxpayers’ pockets.

How much emphasis is being given to the future growth this area can expect? It’s growing now, and that will continue.

We need future planning, much like the City of Portland did for its transit links.

It comes down to good governance. As Don Denton pointed out in his column recently (“Politicians, pay attention now,” Feb. 11), we need people who are willing to govern, not political entities, and that goes for all levels of government. It’s sadly lacking.

We need a co-operative, comprehensive governing body that rises above the rivaling fiefdoms that exist.

And we need taxpayers and voters who not only recognize their rights, but also their own responsibilities.

Just writing that down sounds naive, but everything starts with a dream.

Judy Reimche

Central Saanich