On July 29, the Capital Region Municipal Amalgamation Society (Amalgamation Yes) released the results of an online poll done in the Greater Victoria area. The results were overwhelmingly clear. Residents of the Capital District are largely in favour of amalgamation.
Sooke, doesn’t fit the mold and there does not seem too much of an appetite for amalgamation.
“Sooke is geographically too far separated,” said Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne. “We don’t intend to put it on the ballot.”
Milne said there was some discussion in council about putting the issue of amalgamation on the ballot for the November election, but with one question already being asked of Sooke residents, it would be confusing to put on another. Sooke residents will be asked to give the district authority for long term borrowing of $1.5 million for a community public space.
In the poll, 83 per cent of the Sooke residents polled stated that having the CRD organization with its staff and board members is just too much expensive government and 92 per cent of respondents stated the status quo is working, we should leave well enough alone. In Sooke 92 per cent of the respondents supported holding a non-binding referendum.
Sooke residents stated in the poll that their most important issues in the Capital Regional District was transportation (58 per cent), sewage/waste water management (42 per cent) and cooperation between municipalities (42 per cent).
Sooke residents polled felt that amalgamation might mean the larger municipalities would dictate to the smaller ones.
In 2013 an amalgamation survey was conducted in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and of those polled 50 per cent were satisfied with the present model of governance. The least favored options were amalgamating with Colwood, Metchosin and Sooke and the most favored governance options were to create a separate electoral area west of Sooke encompassing Otter Point, Shirley, Jordan River, Port Renfrew and the Rural Resource lands.
The 2014 poll was carried out by Angus Reid Global in order to provide greater insight into what residents of the Greater Victoria area felt about the governance structure of the Capital District and how they felt about amalgamation in general.
Every municipality was sampled and a strong majority in every district supported the idea of amalgamation, and highly supported having a non-binding referendum question on amalgamation on their ballots in the upcoming November election.
“What this poll demonstrates is that the people of Greater Victoria are ready to begin seriously considering amalgamation. This is what they want today,” said Susan Jones, Chair of the society. “A strong majority felt that amalgamation would improve the quality and delivery of a number of municipal services to our region. Clearly the taxpayers of this area feel that the day-to-day business of local government would benefit from reducing the number of municipalities through amalgamation.”
The society hopes that with such a clear indication of public support, the mayors and councils of the 13 municipalities will follow the will of the people and place a non-binding referendum question on their respective ballots in the coming November elections.
In the 13 communities that comprise the capital region, 441 adults were surveyed online between July 16 – 17, 2014.