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Greater Victoria, BC News

ARTICLE

Date ArticleType
9/1/2014 Published Article
Amalgamation Now

The amalgamation debate is still going strong in the Capital region, as it has for over a century. Many of us in the Capital region conduct business and our personal lives across multiple municipal boundaries. Our lives simply do not conform to one municipality. This has become an increasingly difficult problem to solve as the continued growth in the region has resulted in many of our borders encroaching upon one another’s.

With continued growth in urban areas, like Greater Victoria, the efficiencies and effectiveness of our local government are hindered by these many jurisdictions. To improve our regional efficiencies as well as international competitiveness it is important to work constructively as a region. Many issues that we face are regional in nature; for instance, policing, transportation, economic development, and even homelessness.

Amalgamation can bring many economic benefits to our region. It will give us the ability to secure federal infrastructure funding, opportunities to improve transportation congestion, build a sewage treatment facility and improve the livability of our community on a larger scale. All these opportunites to enhance our community will be accessible if we address amalgamation now.

A recent survey commissioned by Amalgamation Yes, found overwhelming support for amalgamation with 84 per cent of respondents agreeing. In addition, 90 per cent of all respondents agreed that 13 municipalities with 91 mayors and councilors “just doesn’t make sense.” With overwhelming support in the community, why can’t we move forward with amalgamation?

Essentially, our hands are tied by changes in the Community Charter. The requirement in the Community Charter for the amalgamation question to be self-generated by each municipality is perpetuating the growing problem of inefficiencies in urban centres. Fractured governance has become entrenched in self –interest and is further exacerbating the inefficiencies within our system.

The Chamber has called on the provincial government and the minister responsible to amend section 279 of the Community Charter to include initiating municipal amalgamation by order of the province. Where municipalities fail to examine amalgamation for the greater good of the community, we believe that the province needs to take assertive action when the best interest of the community and the province as a whole are being compromised.

Bruce Carter CEO, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
Business Examiner - September 2014

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