Both North Cowichan and Duncan councils had agreed to remain neutral and not voice their opinions regarding amalgamation but some councillors from Duncan couldn’t help but speak their minds.
In opposition to councillor Sharon Jackson, who has made it known she’s 100 per cent opposed to the idea, Duncan councillor Roger Bruce is making a strong and vocal case for an amalgamated community.
“I am 100 per cent in favour of amalgamation,” he said.
Born and raised right across College Street from Duncan Elementary School, Bruce has strong roots in Duncan. He is also the only Duncan councillor that pays taxes in Duncan. It gives him a unique perspective on the issue.
“When dealing with roads, sidewalks, sewer, water, rivers, highway issues, homeless challenges, green initiatives, policing, the new hospital, the new high school, provincial and federal grant applications, equipment purchases…I believe as a united voice, the Valley will be much stronger,” he explained.
And then there’s the issue of policing costs. It’s no secret that the population of Duncan hovers just below 5,000 and as soon as it hits that magic number, Duncan will have to pay for its own policing costs. That’s going to happen eventually with or without amalgamation, Bruce said.
“With the two new condos in Duncan and the recent zoning changes to higher density, it takes little imagination to recognize our police costs will be going up with or without amalgamation.”
He said it will only take about 50 more people to move into Duncan to turn the tide.
Bruce wants to respect the Citizens Assembly’s four months of study, and to make note that “34 out of the 36 volunteers (our neighbours) recommended amalgamation.”
The lengthy Urban System report also “acknowledges the potential cost savings and illustrates $830,000 in annual savings with amalgamation,” he said. “One-time costs for amalgamation are important to recognize but they matter little when we are considering the next 25 to 50 years.”
Bruce acknowledges the difficulty surrounding the issue.
“For obvious reasons senior staff and all elected councils for the last 100 years have been in a deep conflict of interest…so I tip my hat to the current staff(s) and elected officials who have given the people the opportunity to have their voice heard.”