Community News

Hearing the Calls for Action from the TRC

North & Central Saanich move forward with the Reconciliation process.

by Michele Murphy

Last June the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its long-awaited report, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future. In this historical report are 94 recommended Calls to Action urging all levels of government — federal, provincial, territorial, Aboriginal, and municipal — to work together to change policies and programs in an effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools and move forward with reconciliation.

This past January (2016) both Central and North Saanich officially began the process of reconciliation and working through the TRC report and the recommendations that it offers.

The TRC was formed, and the report was produced, as part of the federal Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement of 2008, the class-action settlement in which former residential school students took the federal government and the churches to court. It was the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history.

The TRC’s Report is the culmination of six years of research documenting more than 150 years of Residential school experiences of the Aboriginal peoples, mainly children. It serves as a public historical record of the past policies and operations of the former residential schools. The report includes a detailed account of the psychological, physical, and sexual abuse inflicted upon Indigenous children in government residential schools, abuse that resulted in more than 3,200 deaths and devastating long-term, multi-generational effects and consequences.

Of the 94 recommendations for the report offers, at least 16 are actionable at the local level, and five specifically call upon municipalities to take action – all with the goal of building new equal partnerships with Aboriginal people in Canada based on truth, dignity, and mutual respect.

The five recommendations that specifically call upon municipalities are:
#43: We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.

#47: We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, and to reform those laws, government policies, and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such concepts.

#57: We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills- based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

#75: We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.

#77: We call upon provincial, territorial, municipal, and community archives to work collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system, and to provide these to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) initiated dialogue on the TRC Call to Action last September at their annual convention inviting the Commissioner of the TRC, Dr. Marie Wilson to address the assembly. Wilson’s presentation focused on the 16 Calls to Action related to municipal and/or all order of government. She challenged local governments to do their part in advancing the process of reconciliation.

By December the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) issued a statement saying that, “the FCM is committed to supporting municipalities in their efforts to forge these renewed relationships based on mutual understanding and respect.” The mayors of Canada’s big cities reaffirmed their commitment to work together with Aboriginal leaders to deliver real change in the same statement.

At the regional level Capital Regional District (CRD) Board director Marianne Alto made a recommendation that the CRD Board ask the staff to report back as soon as March with recommendations as to how to move forward. As of SVO’s press time that recommendation is still in process. In viewing the online video of the CRD’s January Board meeting it would seem that there are varying levels of awareness of the TRC report’s recommendations by the directors (item 8.3).

Municipalities across the country are beginning to take up the challenge of reconciliation, some in creative and interesting ways. This past January both Central and North Saanich begun the process of looking at what they can do as municipalities to reconcile the past and move forward in a respectful way.

At Central Saanich’s January council meeting Coun. Zeb King put forward a motion asking that council direct the municipality’s CAO to, over the course of the coming year, come up with options as to how they move forward on the TRC’s five municipally focused recommendations. When asked of the outcome King replied, “I’m so pleased to report that my motion for action on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was unanimously approved by Central Saanich Council this evening. This is one step forward with more to come.” King raised his hands and said “HISWKE”, (thank you in Sencoten), upon completion of the vote.

North Saanich included the TRC’s report and its Calls to Action in its January 14 day-long strategic planning session. “One of the new items we added was the TRC and how we as local government might respond, and specifically noted Actions 43, 57 and 77,“ explains North Saanich Coun. Heather Gartshore, adding, “Our Council is in support of moving the conversation forward, recognizing that we have a role in reconciliation with our First Nations communities.”



As yet the recommendations of the TRC have not come before Saanich or Sidney Council.

Saanich and the Peninsula is home to four thriving First Nations communities: Tsartlip, Tsawout, Pauquachin, and Tseycum First Nation. The opportunity for creating meaningful change in the relationships between First Nations and non-Aboriginal people is rich in this area.

This is the first of a series of articles that will look at the reconciliation process in our communities. If you would like to contribute to the series, please do be in touch at

The full TRC Report summary report can be found at


Municipalities & Province Moving Ahead Together

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter

Optimism radiated following a meeting between Community Minister Peter Fassbender and Capital Region mayors on issues of governance.

“We have all agreed – all of the mayors and myself – that we had a very productive meeting,” Fassbender told Saanich Voice Online. “There’s measureable value in sitting together to discuss issues of common interest and concern.

“Our goal coming out of the meeting was to look for ways to move forward. The Province has committed to providing a facilitation process to specifically identify what the real issues are that are being faced by all of the communities. Following that outcome, we have committed to meet again.

“We will ensure that the public is kept informed of the work we undertake.”

In inviting the mayors to the meeting on Dec. 3, 2015, Fassbender said “ . . . there may be benefit to the region from local governments exploring further the question of how to better integrate services and governance.”

Sidney Mayor Steve Price told SVO, “We had a very productive meeting with Minister Fassbender. All of the region’s mayors were in attendance and each one raised individual ideas and thoughts on what was working well in their individual municipalities and also what services were already integrated, how that was working and are there potentially any other efficiencies we could be looking at region-wide.

“The minister and his staff took detailed notes and will come back to us at some point in the new year to arrange another meeting to further discuss some of the points that were raised.”

Mayor Alice Finall of North Saanich also told SVO, “ … it was a productive meeting. The Minister was very clear that the province would not force amalgamation of the Regional municipalities. He did suggest a future meeting of the mayors to consider possible further efficiencies in delivery of services and also to be sure that everyone had the same information. No date is yet set for such a future meeting nor the format.”

Mayors Richard Atwell of Saanich and Ryan Windsor of Central Saanich did not respond with comments by the SVO’s press time.

Meanwhile, the 13-member residents committee that will examine Saanich governance is expected to be named and start work in January on a minimum 18-month project. Council has implemented the non-binding (expression of opinion) referendum on Nov. 15, 2014, when voters answered “Yes” to this question: “Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the Region?”

You’ll find more on this subject by using the SVO search feature:  amalgamation and/or governance


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Affordable Housing Proposed

For Cordova Bay Plaza Development

by Roger Stonebanks, Re-printed by permission from the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs Newsletter.

When the time comes for new plans for redevelopment of Cordova Bay Plaza – a local community activist group hopes that affordable housing is part of the plaza’s future.

Spokeswoman Hanny Pannekoek said her group, working under the Saanich South NDP Executive and in support of MLA Lana Popham, has chosen to focus on affordable housing and building community as its current topic.

“We decided to connect the promotion of affordable housing with a future plan for the Cordova Bay Plaza,” she said.

“We envision a plaza which includes affordable housing, a plaza with a mixture of shops, homes and green space, making the plaza a place where people can live, shop and gather in community.” Pannekoek said the group wishes to work with others in a non-partisan way.

Plans for a mixed commercial-residential redevelopment of the plaza, which was built in 1960, were approved by Saanich council in 1999. They included a supermarket three times the size of the present one plus shops with 16 apartments above them and a specific bank building.

But underground gasoline pollution spreading from an off-site closed service station resulted in Saanich not issuing the Development Permit. Remediation was undertaken and a Certificate of Compliance issued in 2012 by the
Environment Ministry. Redevelopment, however, did not occur. Most leases including Tru-Value Foods run to 2017.

Plaza spokeswoman Brenda Ferguson of Sutton Realty told The Cordovan a review of the future of the property including whether to sell or redevelop will happen by the spring of 2016. “Nothing is planned at this time,” she said. If the decision is to sell, the buyer would need at least a year’s lead time or longer.

She said it has proven difficult to lease vacant space (there are two vacancies) with only the offer of a short-term lease. Five-year leases now would take the plaza to 2020. Recently, the plaza faced the expense of a new roof that “had to be replaced.”  

Pannekoek, a former secretary of the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs (CBA), said the CBA has offered to work with her group in holding an ‘open house’ to discuss the idea of affordable housing with the wider community and solicit further ideas and input.

Anyone interested in this matter and/or would like to work with the group is invited to contact Hanny at

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Serious Gag Reflex

A Look at the Use of SLAPP Suits to Silence the Citizenry

by Ed Johnson, citizen reporter

“A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics…”, according to Wikipedia.

Opposition justice critic Leonard Krog, further defines it as “…often a baseless lawsuit which targets organizations and individuals purely to force them to waste resources and time to defend themselves from these baseless attacks and thus constrain their continued
active public participation.

“These lawsuits also act as further intimidation of other citizens who might be wanting to also demonstrate their concerns on issues such as the protection of agriculture land, water quality and broader environmental issues.”

It is a scenario that has been played out in several municipalities in the region where the resulting urban sprawl has become a hot topic.  Citizens who align themselves against
unwanted development projects have to determine if the financial and legal challenges they may face are worth the personal sacrifice necessary to achieve their goal.

It is common for the playing field to be uneven. Developers may have access to significant resources as well as the ablity to underwrite the costs of a suit as a business expense.  It then becomes a game of whose resources outlast the others.

In one case in Vancouver a citizens group was successful in its bid to stop development of a nearby forest. They were even awarded costs for their attorney.

The BC Supreme Court judge had this to say about the case (Scory V. Krannitz, May 2011):
“…there is no evidence that the statements made by [the defendants] concerning the possible negative consequences of the proposed fill deposit were represented as absolute certainties. It is apparent that the respondents’ statements were opinions about what could happen. These opinions are on a matter of public interest, were recognizable as comment by any objective standard, and not actuated by malice. Thus the defence of fair comment is also available to the respondents even if the statements are proven to be false.”

While the citizen group was finally victorious in their battle to save the forestland, they still lost.  Their lives were so changed by the three-year-long battle that many say that they no longer join citizen groups or speak out publicly on any issue for fear of the great costs of litigation.

While things are moving forward on this front in Ontario with their passing of their Protection of Public Participation Act, BC has in fact gone backwards.  In 2001 BC, under the NDP government, did pass a similar bill to Ontario’s. Weeks later The BCNDP were defeated in a provincial election and the BC Liberals immediately axed the SLAPP legislation. Despite repeated requests to reinstate the legislation that would give BC judges greater powers to evaluate the merits-or lack thereof-of these types of lawsuits, the BC Liberals have so far refused to do so.

Protective legislation would greatly please Alan Dutton, one of five Kinder Morgan defendants who were threatened with a multi-million dollar lawsuit last year for opposing the 5.4 billion dollar Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.  While Kinder Morgan ‘discontinued’ the action, this merely meant that it could be resumed at a later time.

Closer to home, there are several pending legal actions that may qualify for the ‘SLAPP’ moniker. Perhaps if the anti-SLAPP legislation had been in place these may have never come about, or at least would have been speedily resolved – if a judge deemed them to be strategic lawsuits with the goal of thwarting public participation.

Whether there is an active SLAPP suit going on or not, one should consider what effect the very threat of these malicious acts has on our community’s ability and willingness to voice opinion and engage. The threat is real, as long as the Province refuses to protect our democracy through legislation.

SLAPP Protection Legislation may be discussed during the next legislative session, or not, depending on the whim of the majority government or an outpouring of support from the

Buy Less, Buy Better, Buy Local

by Carole Pearson

“When we think of pollution, we envision coal power plants, strip-mined mountaintops and raw sewage piped into our waterways.

We don’t often think of the shirts on our backs. But the overall impact the apparel industry has on our planet is quite grim,” writes Glynis Sweeny in “Fast Fashion is the Second Dirtiest Industry in the World, Next to Big Oil”.

In Overdressed: The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion, author Elizabeth Cline states,“The natural resources that go into fibre production every year now demand approximately 145 million tons of coal and somewhere between 1.5 trillion and two trillion gallons of water.”

“Disturbingly, about half of our wardrobe is now made out of plastic, in the form of polyester,”

“More than anything, the sheer amount of production is a problem,” comments Bangalore University’s Lakshmi Challa in her report, the Impact of Textiles and Clothing Industry on the Environment. “From wastewater emissions to air pollution and energy consumption the textile industry weighs heavily in the environment.”

Hundreds of textiles factories line the shores of Indonesia’s Citarum River. According to Greenpeace, “The printing and dying processes are particularly chemically intensive and have contributed to the Citarum developing a reputation as one of the dirtiest rivers on earth.”

Earth can’t produce enough natural fibres to fill demand, Challa says. Synthetics are popular, low-cost alternatives but far from ideal. For one thing, they are hard to recycle. Nylon takes 30 to 40 years to decompose. Nylon production creates nitrous oxide, “a greenhouse gas 310-times more potent than carbon dioxide,” notes Challa.

Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, Lycra, Spandex, and PVC, are all petroleum-based,  meaning they are non-biodegradable. Their manufacture uses vast amounts of water and crude oil.

“Disturbingly, about half of our wardrobe is now made out of plastic, in the form of polyester,” says Cline. People who scorn bottled water because of the plastic waste it could be guilty of owning a closet full of  plastic, just in a different form.

“Of the billions of new clothing items purchased each year, 90 percent is transported from offshore factories by container ships using the dirtiest of fossil fuels – low grade bunker fuel.”

Lorna Knowles is co-owner of  Victoria’s Hemp and Company which sells clothing made of natural fibres. She says, “We found the more research we did validated the path we have taken. Like the impact of  polyester and even recycled polyester that is made into the fleece that people buy in great quantities.

“The fabric breaks down and produces micro-particles that go into the environment. What people don’t realize is, (micro-particles of) their clothing goes into the ocean with every washing.”

Of the billions of new clothing items purchased each year, 90 percent is transported from offshore factories by container ships using the dirtiest of fossil fuels – low grade bunker fuel – according to Sweeny.

In contrast, Hemp & Company stocks its own clothing line. “We have a local designer buying fabric from a local distributor. We employ a pattern maker for our factories in Vancouver. It keeps money in the local economy, and is good for more people,” says Knowles. The store also carries other Canadian-made clothing.

Buying fewer clothes will help the environment. As Knowles suggests, “It’s about making a conscious decision to buy less but buy better quality.”

Up next – recycling fashion in Saanich.

Damning Site C

And Disturbing the Peace

article by Michele Murphy, based on video shot by Ed Johnson

BC Hydro named consortium Peace River Hydro Partners as its preferred partner in the 1.5 billion dollar Site C construction contract on Nov 25, 2015. The three-member partnership includes Korean based 
Samsung, Acciona from Spain, and Calgary-based Petrowest Corp.

“a reasonable government would investigate the energy demand, analyze the cost and consider cleaner, more sustainable energy alternatives.”

As the BC Liberal government pushes ahead with the controversial mega  project, Harold Steves, Richmond councillor, former Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) Chair, and ‘Father of the ALR’ Harold Steves continues to be very vocal with his opposition to the project saying that, “a reasonable government would investigate the energy demand, analyze the cost and consider cleaner, more sustainable energy alternatives.”

Saanich Voice Online and Saanich Report’s Ed Johnson recorded Steves’ presentation, “Future of Farmland and the ALR in BC,” made at a Farmland Protection Coalition gathering in Victoria in October. The one-hour presentation features Steves joined by former ALC Chair Richard Bollock, local farmer and land-use activist Natalie Chambers, and former
senior officer in the Ministry
of Agriculture, Sig Peterson.

“The Peace’s farmland absorbs at least 50,000 tons of CO2 per year”

The well-attended talk laid out in no uncertain terms the immense impact to BC’s agricultural farmland stock that the flooding of 30,000 acres of prime farmland in the Peace River Valley would have. Steves talked about the state of food security in BC, noting the recent loss of over 500,000 of acres of active food production in California, at the same time as new crop opportunities open up in BC, attributing both to climate change.

Steves noted the value the Peace adds to BC’s carbon sequestration equation explaining that the Peace’s farmland absorbs at least 50,000 tons of CO2 per year. That won’t happen once the land is flooded.

He goes on to highlight many of the innovative green energy solutions that are currently in play in both Vancouver and Richmond as evidence of the lack of need for a mega-power project in this day and age.

Among the innovations Steves lists is an impressive solar network being looked at throughout the City of Vancouver that could see as many as 900,000 homes receiving their power from solar – twice Site C’s proposed output. Another such innovation is Richmond’s district-owned geothermal infrastructure. The project has already created enough energy to heat 12,000 homes, and Steves says, “We could do every home in Richmond over a period of time.”

You’ll find links for both an 8-minute Site C specific talk from Harold Steves HERE, and the larger one hour update on BC’s ALR HERE on Saanich Report’s Youtube channel 

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Amalgamation Dims for the Capital Region

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen journalist

Blue skies turned grey in November for amalgamation supporters as the BC government favoured “service and governance integration” within the Capital Region.

Community Minister Peter Fassbender has this written mandate from Premier Clark: “Develop and present options to Cabinet on potential processes under which local governments could either amalgamate or integrate service delivery by June, 2016.”

Public attention focussed on “amalgamate” in the mandate but neglected to heed the word “could” and the expressed alternative to amalgamation – “or integrate service delivery.”

Non-binding referendums (expressions of opinion) that accompanied some municipal election ballots last Nov. 15 did not provide a clear over-all result because – except on the Saanich Peninsula – the questions themselves were varied, and some municipalities did not have referendum questions at all.

Nevertheless, the campaign by the lobby group, Capital Region Municipal Amalgamation Society (known in short as Amalgamation Yes), continued, looking to the provincial government to take the lead and do a study on amalgamation.

It wasn’t to happen.

There were plenty of hints from last September that the provincial government favoured the approach of integrating service delivery over municipal amalgamation. And in early November Fassbender spelled it out in a letter to area mayors inviting them to attend a 90-minute meeting with him “… on the topic of service and governance integration in the Capital region.” Significantly, the word “amalgamation” was not mentioned in the letter. Neither was the word “study.”

“While individual interests and perspectives are diverse, there have been shared views on the common thread from the 2014 referenda results – namely, that there may be benefit to the region from local governments exploring further the question of how to better integrate services and governance,” Fassbender wrote.

“I know that informing the public and others about the current governance and services profile of the Capital region will be of continuing interest to many of you, especially the number of services already undertaken in shared or integrated way.”

Just after his letter became public, Fassbender addressed the pro-amalgamation Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. His subject was “CRD Governance – the way forward.” Missing, significantly, was the A-word.

Fassbender reiterated the comments in his letter seeing the government’s role as facilitator. He said there is “lots of good work going on” between municipalities and “I believe we can build on that.” He specifically stood by the section of the Community Charter – unique in Canada – which mandates that municipal amalgamations must be voter-approved – not imposed by the provincial government. There would be no forced amalgamations. (Find the link to his full speech online.)

Saanich Voice Online (SVO) asked Mayor Richard Atwell of Saanich and the three Saanich Peninsula mayors for their reactions. Here are their comments:

Mayor Atwell: “I am encouraged by the Minister’s offer to facilitate a meeting of all mayors in the region to give consideration to this subject. It is long overdue and a positive first step. The Province has said that it won’t force amalgamation but as the legislators behind the Community Charter and Local Government Act, they still must play a policy role that includes analysis of the status quo vs. an alternate model. Whether you called it an amalgamation study or a governance review, it is ultimately about discovering a better system of government through legislative changes, that  benefits communities and the greater region as a whole.”

Mayor Ryan Windsor of Central Saanich: “My only comment at this time is I look forward to meeting with my colleagues from around the region in a discussion with the minister on a range of topics related to governance.”

Mayors Alice Finall of North Saanich and Steve Price of Sidney did not reply.

Meanwhile, Saanich will start its own voter-approved governance review with a 13-member residents committee in the new year. It is expected to last at least 18 months.

As SVO went to press, an on-line pro-amalgamation petition was initiated. Addressed to “Liberal Party of BC Hon. Christy Clark” it read: “Many residents in British Columbia municipalities have requested their Mayor and Councillors seek assistance from BC Province for study on amalgamation specific to their municipality with little success.

“I the undersigned request the BC Government put a question on the next Provincial election ballot that includes:

“Conduct a study in my municipality about amalgamation that will include but not limited: financial, social, environmental and options for municipal reconfiguration and governance.”

The next BC election will be in 2017.



 After three weeks, the on-line petition by “Citizens for Amalgamation Study” had gathered four signatures.

For more articles on this subject, use SVO‘s search feature

Minister Fassbender sends invite to local mayors

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen journalist

Community Minister Peter Fassbender has invited Greater Victoria mayors to meet him “on the topic of service and governance integration in the Capital region” later in November/early December.

Significantly, in a letter dated Nov. 5 to area mayors that was made public today (Nov. 16), there is no mention of “amalgamation” or a study of it.

Fassbender has already met area mayors and councillors at the Union of BC Municipalities last September. The previous community minister, Coralee Oakes, met local leaders in Victoria last summer.

“While individual interests and perspectives are diverse, there have been shared views on the common thread from the 2014 referenda results – namely, that there may be benefit to the region from local governments exploring further the question of how to better integrate services and governance,” Fassbender said in his letter.

“I know that informing the public and others about the current governance and services profile of the Capital region will be of continuing interest to many of you, especially respecting the number of services already undertaken in a shared or integrated way.

“Recognizing the range of ideas we have heard, I propose that we continue our conversation, with all local governments at the table, to consider how the region might wish to move forward and how the Province of British Columbia could support these efforts.”

Fassbender invited the mayors to the meeting and ” . . . we will build in future opportunities to engage your Councillors and Chief Administrative Officers.” He hoped that “you find this a reasonable path forward.”

Fassbender will speak Nov. 17 to the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce about “CRD Governance – the way forward.”

For the most recent news stories by Saanich Voice Online, see Facts are Sacred (Nov. 7) and Amalgamation Revisioning? (Nov.2).  

UPDATE: Here a recording of the Minister’s Nov 17th speaking event.


Facts are Sacred

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen journalist

There seems to be a renewed commentary about just what we did – and didn’t – vote on when different questions about amalgamation/governance were asked in the Nov. 15, 2014, municipal elections in Greater Victoria. To refresh our memories – here are the facts – the questions that were asked and the results of the referendums in eight municipalities:

SIDNEY — “Are you in favour of a provincially funded study to investigate the feasibility, costs and implications of amalgamating the three municipalities of the Saanich Peninsula?” YES – 2,566; NO – 1,232; eligible voters – 9,100.

NORTH SAANICH — “Are you in favour of a study, provincially funded, to investigate the feasibility, costs and implications of amalgamating the three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula of Sidney, Central Saanich and North Saanich?” YES – 2,881; NO – 1,727; eligible voters – 9,055. 

CENTRAL SAANICH — “Should the District of Central Saanich petition the Province to fund a cost/benefit analysis of an amalgamation of Central Saanich, North Saanich and Sidney?” YES – 3,588; NO – 1,489; eligible voters 14,242.

SAANICH — “Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the Region?” YES – 21,437; NO – 2,780; eligible voters – 80,986.

VICTORIA — “Are you in favour of reducing the number of municipalities in Greater Victoria through amalgamation?” YES – 18,351; NO – 4,601; eligible voters 69,624.

OAK BAY — “Are you in favour of the District of Oak Bay being amalgamated into a larger regional municipality?” YES – 2,184; NO – 3,594; eligible voters – 14,107.

ESQUIMALT — two referendums were presented, (1) “Are you in favour of the Township of Esquimalt exploring options to achieve efficiencies by further sharing some services with other municipalities?” YES – 3,731; NO – 578; eligible voters 14,545. (2) “Are you in favour of exploring the reduction of the number of municipalities within Greater Victoria through amalgamation?” YES – 2,905; NO – 1,404; eligible voters – 14,545.

LANGFORD — “Are you in favour of the City of Langford being amalgamated into a larger regional municipality?” YES – 2,222; NO – 2,209; eligible voters 23,864.

View Royal, Highlands, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke — councils did not hold referendums. Eligible voters – 34,505.


Amalgamation Revisioning?

Blue Skies May be Clouding Over for the Pro-amalgamates in #YYJ

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter

Peter Fassbender, the new minister for Community, Sport and Cultural Development, will outline current BC government thinking on amalgamation and governance in a luncheon speech to the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 17.

If recent indications stand up, he may not share the same ‘blue sky vision’ for amalgamating the Capital region as his predecessor, Coralee Oakes, expressed last March to a BC Liberal Party meeting in Victoria.

While the Chamber has    long been a proponent of amalgamating the region, the A-word is missing from the chamber’s recent lunch invitation – “Hear Minister Fassbender speak on CRD governance – the way forward!”

The A-word was also missing when Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen gave a newspaper interview about his meeting with Fassbender at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September — “A-word off the radar for province,” the Oak Bay News reported.

Still, when Premier Clark replaced Oakes with Fassbender last July, the written mandate to Oakes was renewed unchanged to Fassbender with the A-word along with the alternative “integrate service delivery” – “Develop and present options to Cabinet on potential processes under which local governments could either amalgamate or integrate service delivery by June 30, 2016.”

Mayor Jensen told the Oak Bay News that he, Coun. Tom Croft and Chief Administrative Officer, Helen Koning, had “an open and frank discussion and certainly what I thought was quite different was the tone being set by Minister Fassbender around the whole question of amalgamation. The position that was very clearly articulated was that this government will follow the law and not change the law that says no municipality will be forced into amalgamation. He also said there would not be any studies done with a focus on amalgamation, but
his ministry was very much open to facilitating conversations about local governments working together efficiently and effectively.”

Jensen does not foresee the province “launching into any study of any kind with respect to the Capital Regional District. I think they see themselves more as a facilitator.”

Esquimalt Coun. Beth Burton-Krahn said the published commentary “certainly lines up with what Minister Fassbender said at the UBCM forum on Strong Communities” when he was asked about governance in Greater Victoria.

Burton-Krahn reported on the Facebook Page, Local Governance Talks 2.0, a page which she moderates, that Fassbender commented, “There is not a common point of view across the region – there are a variety of perspectives out of the referendum [in eight of 13 municipalities in Greater Victoria last November] and that current government policy – in fact legislation – means he will not force communities to do anything and that the government will not force anything.” He added that, “his staff will help facilitate any discussions with communities that wish to seriously explore options but he would not lead it, he would not lead

Meanwhile, Saanich is pressing ahead with its own governance review that voters approved last November in a referendum question that avoided the word amalgamation: ”Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the Region?”

Saanich is seeking 13 Saanich residents to serve on its Governance Review Citizens Advisory Committee. (Application can be downloaded HERE). The committee members will be recommended to council by a focus group comprised of representatives of Saanich Advisory Committees plus two members of the Saanich Community Assoc. Network.

“All Saanich residents with an interest in this important topic are encouraged to submit an application. Council is committed to seek diversity – young adults, young parents, seniors, homeowners, renters, newcomers, long-time Saanich residents and taxpayers,” Saanich said in a press release.

The written application deadline is Nov. 20 and the committee will start work in January. Successful applicants must be prepared for a minimum 18-month commitment. All committee meetings will be open to the public.


For earlier news stories about amalgamation/governance, enter “amalgamation” in the search function

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