Saanich councillors will consider next month whether they support language in favour of a 100-member assembly to study “the costs, benefits and disadvantages” of amalgamating Saanich and Victoria.
The figure appears in the draft terms of reference that Saanich’s standing committee on the citizens assembly plans to submit to the full council following its Monday morning meeting.
According to observer Katherine Whitworth, committee members “made quite a few additional changes to the draft,” but retained key aspects that represent significant departures from Victoria’s version of the proposed terms of reference, departures that suggest competing visions about the mechanics and philosophy of public consultation.
These departures start but do not end with the size of the assembly. While Victoria’s version proposes an assembly of 49 members with 28 coming from Saanich, Saanich’s proposal calls for more than twice as many. A larger assembly could require additional resources and potentially render it less flexible.
Saanich’s committee also remains hesitant about paying assembly members an honorarium (above any child care and transporation costs) as Victoria has proposed. Saanich has instead proposed language to cover reasonable childcare and transportation costs.
Saanich’s draft language, according to Whitworth, also calls for six to 12 meetings, including open houses. This figure represents an increase from the document’s initial wording, which spoke of six to 10 meetings.
Victoria has proposed a maximum of six meetings, with a minimum of four, coupled with other public elements.
Saanich’s committee also punted the question of whether future assembly meetings will be open or closed.
It is expected that Saanich’s full council will consider at its next committee-of-the-whole meeting, May 13. If council signs off on the terms, Saanich’s committee will meet its Victoria counterpart to reconcile the documents before submitting them to the respective councils for approval. Once approved, the provincial government will have to sign off.