Re: “Greater Victoria governance needs an overhaul.” The letter writers’ observations about the dysfunctional municipal governance in Greater Victoria are spot on. However, the responsibility to “straighten out this mess” does not fall to the provincial government, but to the electorate themselves.
The 2003 B.C. Community Charter, chapter 26, section 279, speaks to “no forced amalgamation” of existing municipalities by the provincial government. The province approaches amalgamation decisions within a framework that relies on a local process. The respective municipalities are expected to design and steward a process that shares information with all constituents and stakeholders on what amalgamation would mean and provide a forum for community dialogue. The province does not involve itself in commencing a study on amalgamation, however, does assist in facilitating the process.
Steps towards this local process (known as a Citizens’ Assembly) has commenced wherein during the 2018 Saanich and Victoria municipal elections, a majority of voters from each municipality approved the following: “Are you in favour of spending up to $250,000 for establishing a Citizens Assembly to explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria?”
Joint terms of reference of this Citizens’ Assembly have been finalized by both Saanich and Victoria councils with submission imminent to the provincial minister of municipal affairs.
There is no question a thorough review of Greater Victoria municipal governance is required, however, it must be initiated by the electorate and not the provincial government – starting with Saanich and Victoria.