To merge or not to merge? Citizen’s Assembly recommends marriage

But cost savings would be “negligible

The citizens of Duncan and North Cowichan will be asked to vote in a referendum on June 23 on whether they want their two communities amalgamated into one.

An impartial information campaign led by an external consultant will soon begin to provide information to the public in the weeks leading up to the referendum.

Residents are expected to be able to seek answers to their questions through a number of channels, including a dedicated website, a call-in line and several open houses, then determine for themselves whether the two municipalities should amalgamate.

The issues are many, and the municipalities have released some information through a number of reports prepared over the months as staff and local politicians mulled over whether the question should be asked in the first place.

Can citizens and property owners expect any cost savings at the municipal level if amalgamation gets the green light, will there be any significant changes to taxes, will there be job losses and even what the name of the new, single municipality would be called are just few of the things the public needs to know.

The amalgamation of North Cowichan and Duncan had been recommended by the Citizens’ Assembly, a group of 36 citizens from both municipalities that were randomly chosen to participate.

After months of research, the assembly’s final report was presented at a special meeting of Duncan and North Cowichan elected officials on May 23, 2017.

The assembly cited a number of benefits to amalgamation, but said the cost-savings to taxpayers from such a move would be “negligible.”

Some residents may be surprised by this conclusion, but according to the findings of the accompanying technical report, the negligible financial impact of amalgamation is itself a consequence of the efficiency with which both municipalities currently provide services, and the extent of co-operation that already exists between them.

Without a strong fiscal rationale, the Assembly nevertheless believes that Cowichan Valley residents would benefit from merging the two local governments.

Members argue that Duncan and North Cowichan will be stronger together.

They state that harmonized bylaws will help businesses; a single official community plan will lead to more rational and coordinated land use policies; and over time, a shared vision for the Cowichan Valley will produce a consistent and beneficial approach to growth.

As for taxation, the Assembly concluded that Duncan and North Cowichan currently charge comparable residential property tax rates, which could be harmonized with only a modest impact on annual bills.

Assembly members also found a history of co-operation already exists between the two communities, making amalgamation easier.

The range of shared services include water and sewage to some homes and recreation for many residents throughout the regional district.

As well, the adjacent Duncan and North Cowichan fire halls currently provide complementary services, so combining the structures would produce no meaningful savings.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Smoky skies in the Valley expected to clear by mid week

But smoke from wildfires could return at any time

RCMP looking for missing Duncan teen

Dallas Macleod, 18, was last seen on Aug. 10

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Bear kills off-leash dog in B.C. park

There have been nearly 200 pet or livestock and bear encounters so far this year

Trudeau says he won’t apologize to heckler, pledges to call out ‘hate speech’

Prime Minister had accused woman of racism as she shouted about illegal immigration at Quebec rally

Documentary filmed in B.C. nominated in ‘Wildlife Oscars’’

Toad People is the only Canadian film to be nominated in this year’s Panda Wilderness Awards

B.C. man builds 10-foot sign thanking fire responders

Ken Rawson built his “thank u” sign on Saturday as helicopters responded to fires around the province.

PHOTOS: Olympian Patrick Chan helps B.C.’s ‘SuperChefs’ celebrate 10th anniversary

Former figure skater among those at event Friday in Surrey

Smaller B.C. bus service prepares to replace Greyhound

Kootenay-to-Okanagan run would require online reservations

Mother charged with homicide of Langley seven-year-old

Aaliyah Rosa’s 36-year-old mother charged with second degree murder: IHIT

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

A massive cloud of smoke hangs over B.C. and Alberta due to wildfires

Most Read