Amalgamation and Boundary Realignment Community Opinion Questions Confirmed for November Ballot
At a special open Council meeting on September 29, 2014, City of Duncan Council approved the following two non‐binding community opinion questions to be asked on the November Ballot:
- Are you in favour of spending time and resources to study the costs and benefits of the amalgamation of the municipalities of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan?
- Are you in favour of spending time and resources to study the options, costs, and benefits of realignment of the existing boundaries of the City of Duncan, either separately, or together with an amalgamation study?
Although the approved questions differ from the question that will be placed on the North Cowichan Ballot, Council felt strongly that a study that looked at only amalgamation may not be in the best interests of the residents of North Cowichan and Duncan. These non‐binding questions will provide clear guidance for the next City Council.
Council also reaffirmed that they believe that any study undertaken should encompass the following:
- Should be led by an independent, randomly selected Citizens’ Assembly,
- Should be cost shared with the District of North Cowichan, and any consultant would be paid for through the Citizens’ Assembly,
- The recommendation of the Citizens’ Assembly would be non‐binding; and
- Staff from both jurisdictions would be resources for the Citizens’ Assembly, but the Assembly would be led by a Consultant.
“I believe that this should be a study of governance; governance that is focused on the options for efficient and effective delivery of services to the community, strengthens community identity, and provides responsive representation for Citizens.” said Mayor Kent.
What is Amalgamation?
Amalgamation is the merger of two municipalities. Amalgamation can only occur with the agreement of both municipal councils, and approval of the Province.
What is Boundary Realignment?
Boundary Realignment is the moving of the boundary between two municipalities. Minor realignments are common in BC when the boundaries no longer make sense, and the two municipalities agree to move the boundary. Boundary Realignment can only occur with the agreement of both municipal councils, and approval of the Province.
What is the cost of the studies?
This will depend on several factors, once agreement is reached with North Cowichan as to the parameters of a study.
How would the study proceed?
The City believes that the study could/should take two phases. The first phase would identify the issues, who does what, what could change under the two scenarios (Amalgamation or Boundary Realignment), and would allow a Citizens’ Assembly to also discuss the potential options they think might make sense. It is Council’s belief that this discussion should be led by a Citizens’ Assembly.
Once a few options are settled on by the Citizens’ Assembly, phase 2 would proceed, where amalgamation would be studied to evaluate cost savings, increases, and the positive and negative aspects of amalgamation. To add the calculations of cost and benefit for a few Boundary Realignment options is a mathematical exercise based on assessments, road costs, administration costs, etc. There are limited options that would also make sense from a community identity perspective.
Why should we study Amalgamation or Boundary Realignment?
What is being proposed is to study the costs and benefits of one or both scenarios ‐ a study of changing the way governance works in Duncan and North Cowichan. Boundary Realignment is one option that has not been previously studied.
The 1978 amalgamation vote failed in Chemainus, Crofton, and Duncan, yet the vote passed or was close in the south end voting locations. Council feels it important to consider all options and opportunities with regard to the governance of the City and North Cowichan.
If Boundary Realignment or amalgamation proceeded, it should only be if it was beneficial to the residents of Chemainus, Crofton, the South end, Duncan, and Maple Bay. Neither Amalgamation nor Boundary Realignment would occur without the approval of both councils, and the approval of the Province, likely with conditions, and almost certainly with a referendum in both jurisdictions.