(File photo)

Voters in Victoria and Saanich will be asked one important question (besides whom to elect as mayor, councillors, and school trustees) at the upcoming municipal elections on October 20th.

The question concerns amalgamation between the two municipalities, but is not the official referendum on whether they should merge. It is the following:

“Are you in favour of spending up to $250,000 for establishing a Citizens’ Assembly to explore the costs, benefits, and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria?”

The question was decided on at a joint Committee of the Whole meeting organized by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell back in April 2018.

Citizens’ Assembly membership and functions

If electors vote in favour of establishing a Citizens’ Assembly, a group of Saanich and Victoria residents will be randomly selected to form a cross-section of the public that will study the question of amalgamation.

The total cost of establishing this assembly is estimated at $750,000, and will be split three ways, with the City of Victoria, the District of Saanich, and the Province of British Columbia contributing $250,000 each.

If formed, the Assembly will then learn about the needs and interests of local residents and businesses, and examine the costs, benefits and disadvantages of creating a new amalgamated municipal structure.

After conducting a thorough investigation, the Citizens’ Assembly will then develop:

  • A set of values which describe their aspirations for good local governance;
  • A list of issues which they believe need to be satisfactorily resolved for municipal amalgamation to merit consideration; and
  • Should they recommend to proceed with amalgamation, a detailed recommendation concerning municipal amalgamation, including any conditions which would need to be satisfied if a merger were to proceed.

So this October 20th, will you vote in favour of or against examining the future of Victoria and Saanich as one municipality?

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