After nearly two years of discussions, the districts of Victoria and Saanich moved one step closer to amalgamation last night.

On January 28th, the District of Saanich Council joined the City of Victoria in approving the terms of reference for the creation of a citizens’ assembly on amalgamation.

The assembly will explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of amalgamation. 

The creation of the citizen’s assembly was decided upon in 2018, when citizens of both districts voted to allocate funding to explore amalgamation. 

See more: Victoria and Saanich amalgamation to be voted on this Saturday

In accordance with the terms of reference, the assembly will be comprised of 75 members — 43 from Saanich and 32 from Victoria.

It will have an equal proportion of male and female members and a proportionate number of members from across different ages, members who own and who rent their homes, First Nations members, and members from rural and urban areas. 

Each citizen’s assembly member will receive a $100 honourarium per meeting for their participation.

There will be six meetings held over the course of 2020 and concluding in 2021.

The 75 members will discuss issues of land use priorities, investments in capital assets, and the cost of amalgamation, among a host of other issues. 

Next steps for amalgamation

After approving the terms of reference, Saanich and Victoria will now present the joint terms of reference to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and request up to $250,000 in funding toward the creation of the joint citizens’ assembly.

Each municipality will then each contribute up to $250,000 to complete the funding. 

“The two councils have worked rigorously to come up with a joint terms of reference as requested by the province,” said Mayor Fred Haynes in a press release regarding the assembly. 

“As the elected leaders of Saanich, the job of Mayor and Council is to look after the best interests of our community and our residents. A decision of this magnitude must be well-considered and not rushed.”

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