Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes (Black Press Media file photo)

LETTER: Amalgamation with Victoria: a tale of two cities or one?

Saanich residents may have noticed the March 1 report on the next steps for our Citizen’s Assembly (CA). As directed in the ballot question of October 2018, this will be to explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the possible amalgamation of the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria.

The report lays out next steps. These include making a funding application to the province, securing consultants’ help to undertake this process, and confirms the number of participants and its format. With emails and calls from residents I thought an update might be helpful.

Council reaffirmed its commitment of $250,000. This is in line with our initial budget of $250,000 each from Saanich and Victoria. The same will be requested from the province for a total of $750,000. The budget estimate is $720-820,000. Council directed staff to present this budget to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and request funding for at least one-third.

Upon provincial approval, staff will prepare a request for proposals (RFP) to seek a consultant for the CA process, a second RFP for consultant services to prepare the technical analysis to describe the costs, benefits and disadvantages of such an amalgamation. Staff were also directed to work with the consultant to develop a terms of reference for an oversight committee on the Citizens Assembly, to facilitate an arms-length outcome.

While COVID has seen the rise of virtual meeting formats, council mandated in-person participation. The number of participants is set at 48. These maintain a “best practice” approach. On a population basis these realize participation of some 21 Victoria residents and 27 from Saanich. Costs for per diem travel, day care and options for honorariums were approved.

With the above in place, it is expected the Citizens Assembly will start in the fall and take some six months to report back to the Victoria and Saanich councils.

Some key questions from residents have included Q: Is this study for regional amalgamation? A: No, just Saanich and Victoria. Q: How do I participate? A: The consultant will undertake a random selection of 48 residents. Q: Will this be COVID safe? A: The CA takes place after the COVID vaccination program is complete. Q: Is there a risk of losing green space, farms, the Urban Containment Boundary and our municipal investment savings? A: Hard to know. A review of such risks will presumably be presented in the technical analysis. Q: Do the residents of Saanich get a say? A: Yes, I believe so. Recommendations from the CA are non-binding on council. However, before the province would approve an amalgamation of Saanich and Victoria into one city, I believe a referendum would be required to hear from Saanich voters.

Fred Haynes

Saanich Mayor

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

Just Posted

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
East Sooke carpenter builds the ultimate tree fort

East Sooke Treehouse takes flight as an Airbnb

A native-to-B.C. wild queen bee (bombus melanopygus for those in the know) feeds on a periwinkle flower. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)
Wild bees need messy gardens to survive

The year-long nesting period makes habitat a primary concern for wild bees

Sidney’s Richard Talbot met Queen Elizabeth and the late Prince Philip (here with Princess Anne) during their 1971 visit to Victoria as British Columbia celebrated the centenary of joining Confederation. This picture shows the royals relaxing as they sail from Vancouver to Victoria on May 3, 1971. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Croke)
Sidney man who met late Prince Philip twice remembers his wicked sense of humour

Richard Talbot first met the Duke of Edinburgh in 1971, then again in 2015

A rider crosses a “skinny” on the newly opened trail known as 90s Jank, built within the Hartland system by volunteers with the South Island Mountain Bike Society. (Youtube/MTB Matt)
Mountain bikers celebrate first new trail in years on Saanich’s Mount Work

90s Jank trail a product of licence agreement between CRD and mountain bike society

Fire crews respond to the 3500-block of Blanshard Street in Saanich on April 16. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: BC Hydro crews repairing failed electrical equipment in Saanich

Vernon Avenue reopen to traffic following closure

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Coldstream students took over the Your Letters page in the April 9, 2021, edition of the Vernon Morning Star to offer advice to adults about COVID-19. Interior Health took notice and offered their praise. (Vernon Morning Star)
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Grade 2 and 3 classes from a North Okanagan elementary took over Letters page of this Black Press newspaper

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read