Complications abound with amalgamation

Amalgamation is a vicious and terrifying word in the Capital, whispered only in dark corners of municipal halls — feared, loved and hated in a thousand new ways with each new day.

Amalgamation is a vicious and terrifying word in the Capital, whispered only in dark corners of municipal halls — feared, loved and hated in a thousand new ways with each new day. With Esquimalt’s recent Force Divorce following years of budget tensions, debates about regional funding, and regionalization of the CRD’s land use structure, it seems that somebody’s been feeding that elephant in the corner.

Contrary to popular belief, inter-municipal cooperation — far from being an unworkable mess of chattering politicians — has been improving steadily for years. Regional fire, disaster and ambulance services are well established, and municipal governments are even relinquishing some of their power to the CRD in favour of regional transportation plans and growth strategies.

On the flip side, the brief and torrid police force affair between Victoria and Esquimalt was characterized by regular budget conflicts, uncertainty and ultimate failure. There have been repeated (and largely ignored) calls for regional cost-sharing from Victoria, citing the higher costs of running the region’s downtown and rebuilding everyone’s favourite bridge.

In short, complications abound.

According to Victoria councillor Chris Coleman, fewer municipalities can work. “I think you get a much more cohesive plan for economic development,” says Coleman. Along with transportation and development planning, he argues amalgamation would be better for the region’s cultural health. “We tend to send a lot of our cultural and non-profit community around to 13 different councils, where they might get $5,000 here, a few thousand there — how much are these groups spending to do that?”

Saanich councillor Dean Murdock sees regional cooperation as an alternative to amalgamation. “[With more municipalities] you get a council with focus and familiarity with particular neighbourhoods, and a relationship with the neighbourhood associations rather than having representatives from all over the Capital Region voting on an issue specific to a local neighbourhood where they may not have that familiarity. I think that if you concentrate that responsibility you create a distance between the residents and their representatives.”

Personally, I’ve always had trouble ignoring the late great Jane Jacobs — “Respect for difference in neighbourhoods is essential. Megacity bureaucracies cannot respond with this kind of pinpoint accuracy. It defies common sense to inflict on the citizens and businesses a government that is less responsive than what they have now.” Complications indeed. M

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

Just Posted

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Juno-winning Toronto dub poet Lillian Allen is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet for 2021. (Photo courtesy Karen Lee)
Juno-winning dub poet is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet this year

Lillian Allen will present online lecture, reading and Q-and-A

James Summer, the City of Victoria’s new youth poet laureate. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Slam poetry expert introduced as Victoria’s new youth poet laureate

Vic High alum James Summer will serve in the role for 2021

There are many options for enjoying a meal out locally during Dine Around and Stay in Town, on now through Feb. 7. (10 Acres Commons)
Dine Around Stay in Town Victoria carries added importance during pandemic

Special menu items for eat in or takeout/delivery, staycation deals available through Feb. 7

Peter Crema and Harmony Gray (from left), past participants of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teen art group, at work in ArtLab in 2019. The NAG will be expanding the space thanks to a $75,000 arts infrastructure program grant. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre receive new arts infrastructure funding

Province announces recipients of funding through B.C. Arts Council program

Ty Wesley, Nicole Darlington and Cameron Macaulay (from left) performed in the Beholder Entertainment production <em>Gender Sucks!</em> in the 2020 Nanaimo Fringe Festival. (Video still courtesy Sam Wharram)
Nanaimo Fringe Festival artist lottery open to local and B.C. playwrights

Organizers hope to stage plays in-person at indoor and outdoor venues this summer

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

Most Read