Duncan voters will get two referendum questions: amalgamation and boundaries

Voters in the City of Duncan will be asked to vote on two questions relating to amalgamation with North Cowichan and boundary restructuring in the Nov. 15 municipal election.

Both questions are non-binding as the next city council seeks the input of residents on whether or not to move forward with the two hot-button issues that have been on the burner for several years.

"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," Mayor Phil Kent said.

With regard to amalgamation, the ballot will ask, "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?" On the boundary restructuring issue, the ballot will ask, "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?" The questions differ from the one question that voters in North Cowichan will be asked ("Are you in favour of conducting a study to explore the costs and benefits of amalgamation of the municipalities of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan?").

"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," a release from city council stated.

Any study undertaken would encompass four principles as set down by council. The study:

1. Should be led by an independent, randomly selected Citizens’ Assembly, 2. Should be cost-shared with the District of North Cowichan, and any consultant would be paid for through the Citizens’ Assembly, 3. The recommendation of the Citizens’ Assembly would be non-binding; and 4. Staff from both jurisdictions would be resources for the Citizens’ Assembly, but the Assembly would be led by a Consultant.

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