Amalgamation — or at least a question about how it might look — should be on the ballot in all Saanich Peninsula municipalities during the November municipal election.
Already the council of the District of Central Saanich has voted to include a question on their Nov. 15 ballots. It will ask electors if they want the municipality to petition the province for a study on the feasibility of amalgamating with the District of North Saanich and the Town of Sidney, essentially forming a single, larger municipal entity.
The question will be non-binding, meaning that a new council elected that day may wish to put aside the opinion question. Or, it may wish to act on it, should the result weigh heavily in the direction of the positive. It’s a safe stance to take as it won’t tie the hands of new councillors and those who are re-elected. That sort of wiggle room shouldn’t be a surprise, given mixed reviews on amalgamation throughout Greater Victoria.
The Town of Sidney, in the meantime, considered the amalgamation question Monday night. A Town staff report recommended adding a similar question to Central Saanich’s on the Town’s own ballots. Councillors should not reject it out of hand, but instead seek some clarity from voters.
One council could be a holdout, however. The District of North Saanich’s mayor earlier this year, when the amalgamation issue was more front-and-centre, stated they would not ask the question, since their residents haven’t been asking for one. While a little softer in their stance towards the idea, North Saanich councillors also have not pushed for a ballot question.
Loathe as they may be to do so, North Saanich should join with their neighbours and ask the question. If nothing else, it will give them and future councils some direction from their electorate.