Saanich and Victoria are one step closer to studying amalgamation. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich and Victoria agree on terms of reference to further amalgamation study

Municipalities put forward funding request to province

Victoria and Saanich are one step closer to addressing amalgamation.

On Tuesday evening, Saanich council approved the joint terms of reference, agreed upon with the City of Victoria, to form a citizens’ assembly to explore costs, benefits and disadvantages of amalgamation.

The terms of reference outline the structure and mandate of the citizen’s assembly, a structure that has taken both councils nearly a year to agree upon.

“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 statement. “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.”

ALSO READ: Process to create citizens assembly studying Saanich-Victoria amalgamation set to resume

Now, both municipalities will present the terms of reference to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing with a funding request for $250,000 to help fund the citizens’ assembly. This sum would account for one third of the cost, with each municipality contributing an additional $250,0000.

Once a decision is made by the province, Saanich and Victoria would issue a request for proposal for a consultant, who will provide a technical analysis of both municipalities to help further instruct the citizens’ assembly.

ALSO READ: Proposed terms for forum exploring amalgamation between Victoria and Saanich under fire

After the review, the citizen’s assembly would provide recommendations for both councils to consider.

“It’s been a great process to work with our colleagues in Saanich on these terms of reference and to gain deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives and communities,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “We look forward to next steps working with Saanich and the Province to get the citizen’s assembly launched.”

No timeline has been set for when a provincial decision could be expected.

vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca

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