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  • Wed. April 12 - Amalgamation on deck once again

Wed. April 12 - Amalgamation on deck once again

Plus, Greens announce contender for Horgan's seat

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Good morning !

After a pandemic pause, the amalgamation discussion is back in progress as Saanich and Victoria take another step toward a citizens’ assembly that would evaluate the idea.

What do you think of the idea—and of the broader question of whether other local municipalities should join up? And, if you’re a Victoria or Saanich resident, would you want the responsibility of being one of the citizens assembled to look at the issue?

Should Victoria and Saanich amalgamate?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Find results from yesterday’s poll on cruise ships returning at the bottom of today’s newsletter.

Cam Welch

Victoria-Saanich amalgamation consideration process is back underway

📸 Looking south towards Victoria and Saanich borders. Photo: James MacDonald/
Capital Daily

Earlier this month, representatives from Victoria and Saanich councils convened for an update on the citizens’ assembly that will look at amalgamating the two municipalities. Voters in 2018 supported studying the idea through the assembly, which will gather 48 residents. Those 27 from larger Saanich and 21 from Victoria will be chosen by lottery and reflect a proportionate number of Indigenous residents, different age cohorts, and housing circumstances (urban and rural, renters and owners). They will study the issue, deliberate, and offer recommendations, options, or a collective decision before the topic goes to a referendum. In 2017, Duncan and North Cowichan considered amalgamation by using an assembly.

The process has been delayed by the pandemic, but a year ago the municipalities and province agreed to split $750K to fund it. Now-former mayors Lisa Helps and Fred Haynes—who have both expressed skepticism that amalgamation would be worthwhile—said at the time that the assembly would “explore the possible outcomes, costs, benefits and disadvantages of amalgamation so that residents have a more complete understanding” of the issue. The municipalities then waited until after the fall elections for the next steps.

With those steps now beginning, the municipalities will now seek to procure an independent consultant to carry out the assembly. The province wants a progress report by the end of 2023 that confirms the assembly recruitment process and has a preliminary work plan.

Some clear pros and cons to amalgamating all or part of region

While the focus of the assembly is on the potential amalgamation of Victoria and Saanich, there has been broader discussion of amalgamating all or parts of the region's unusual patchwork of 13 municipalities, which serve fewer than 400,000 residents. In 2021, Capital Daily assembled an in-depth feature on the broader issue of amalgamating all or parts of the region. Overall we identified potential benefits to policing and fire dispatch—though these can be addressed without overall city amalgamation, and the province has already recommended that the several local police forces be merged—as well as housing and transportation. Merging also offers an escape from impasses such as Oak Bay not building bike lanes to connect its neighbours’ network, or Victoria and Esquimalt being so at odds on sewage that the province stepped in.

But amalgamation would also mean a loss of political representation and likely much less fiscal efficiency than might be expected. Even if overlapping departments can be consolidated, they’ll still need enough staff and resources to handle the same amount of people and land.

By Cam Welch

Capital Bulletin

☀️ Today’s weather: Sunny with increasing cloudiness in the evening. High 10C / low 3C.

🗳️ BC Liberals rebrand today to BC United, following a November vote by party membership.

☑️ Correction: Last year’s Pacific FC jersey sponsor was VW (Volkswagen), not BMW.


First contender for Horgan’s vacated seat enters byelection race

📸 Photo: Camille Currie (centre) announces her candidacy for Langford-Juan de Fuca last Thursday next to BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau (left). Screenshot from BCGreens YouTube

Langford’s Camille Currie, known for launching a health advocacy campaign to get all BC residents a primary care doctor, will run for the vacant Langford - Juan de Fuca seat. On Thursday the BC Greens announced her as their candidate to replace John Horgan in the riding he held since 2005. The personal trainer and BC Health Care Matters founder said in her candidacy announcement that the “healthcare system needs to provide high quality care with no barriers to access,” and that she believes the Greens are the only party that can deliver that.

Ex-MLA Horgan retired on March 31, joining coal company board

Horgan’s last appearance as MLA was the Port Renfrew school seismic funding announcement. He now joins the board of Elk Valley Resources, a steel-making coal company that is splitting off from large mining company Teck Resources. The move has been criticized over coal’s environmental impact, the province’s role in regulating the resource sector, and Teck’s specific track record. Teck Coal’s penalties for contaminating BC waters have included $16M this winter from BC’s environment ministry and a record $60M under the federal Fisheries Act.

Green leader Sonia Furstenau, who now hopes to flip Horgan’s old seat, said she would table a bill to limit a “revolving door” between government and industry that damages “trust in our democracy and institutions.” Ex-premiers joining corporate boards has been common in BC, and Horgan dismissed “knee-jerk” scrutiny, telling the Globe and Mail he will hold the company to its obligations and has no time for public comment on his post-politics actions.

Read the full story on Horgan’s departure and the new byelection race at The Westshore.

Subscribe to The Westshore for more Westshore news every Tuesday and Thursday.



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Capital Picks

🥸 Mozart’s Così fan tutte at the Royal: This quirky comedy is presented by Pacific Opera Victoria and will run from April 12-18. It follows two up-to-no-good men and the women who teach them a lesson. [Details]

💡 Get ready to Kidovate this Saturday! Over 90 students will be selling goods at the Bay Centre's Kidovate Youth Entrepreneurial Market. Stop by and encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs.*

🎸 Eagles tribute at McPherson Playhouse: Gee Dan Productions presents Hotel California, the original Eagles tribute band. Show starts at 7:30pm tonight. [Tickets]

🪶 Blue Bridge Theatre presents Goodnight Desdemona, (Good Morning Juliet) by Ann-Marie McDonald. Apr. 25-May 7, 2023 | The Roxy Theatre | 250-382-3370*

*Sponsored Listing

🤝 Work Wednesdays

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See more than 80+ jobs posted on YYJobs.

Hiring? Post your job and have it shared in Capital Daily.

In Other News

🌱 Suspected arson at Oaklands Community Garden
An early morning fire destroyed a tool shed and an estimated $10,000 worth of equipment at the Oaklands Community Garden over the Easter long weekend. Police are treating the fire as an arson incident. The community garden was due to celebrate its first anniversary of being open to the public on Monday. [CHEK]

🎸 Sarah McLachlan announced as headliner of MusicFest
The Canadian music hall of famer, Juno- and Grammy-award winner, and member of the Order of Canada, joins Rickie Lee Jones and Galactic as fellow headliners of this three-day music festival at the Comox Valley fairgrounds. [Tickets]

🐇 Bunny sightings at Esquimalt condo site spark concern
Neighbours near the former Rosemead Inn property in Esquimalt have spotted a clutch of likely abandoned bunnies around the construction site. While two of the original seven-or-so bunnies have found homes, there is a fear that the rest might begin multiplying and become endemic in the area. Costly relocations of large bunny populations arising from abandoned pets have occurred at UVic in 2011 and the Helmcken overpass in 2016. [Times Colonist]

In Case You Missed It

🚢 Cruise ship season began yesterday: The Sapphire Princess was the first of 324 ships expected this year, bringing a record 850,000 passengers. Capital Daily talked to some of downtown’s key tourist-dependant businesses to hear what they are doing to prepare for the second cruise season since the pandemic pause.

❤️ What if it was okay to be exactly how you are? The counsellors at Intertidal Wellness think it is. Try a free 15-minute consultation today.*

🎤 Victoria woman gets a standing ovation on Canada’s Got Talent: Sima Saxena’s audition aired in the April 4 episode and received a unanimous yes from all four judges. She sang an original song that she dedicated to her late mother. [CHEK]

🌊 The Rise on Fifth: Ocean view condos are now selling in Sidney. Learn more about this boutique collection of 1-, 2-, and 3- bedroom homes.*

*Sponsored Listing

Yesterday’s poll results

Over 1,000 readers weighed in on cruise ships coming back to town. Here’s what you said:

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🤩 Excited to see them back (44%)

🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️ 😫 Eager to see them gone (31%)

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🤷 Somewhere in between (25%)

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