Editorial: Amalgamation? Why?

Is there much point if it’s not going to save money?

Is there much point if it’s not going to save money?

The Citizen’s Assembly made up of City of Duncan and Municipality of North Cowichan residents has recommended amalgamation of the two municipal units.

But they’ve also stated that cost isn’t one of the reasons to do it. Because any cost-savings to taxpayers, if there even are any, would be negligible.

We’d venture to guess that the reason most people have argued for amalgamation over the years is because they believed it is a waste of money to have the two separate governments, with all of their respective municipal employees. Surely, the reasoning has been, one CAO, one director of finance etc. would be adequate for a united municipality and thus save cash? Apparently this is not the case. Which makes proceeding with any marriage questionable.

We’ll be interested to find out further details in the coming weeks from the assembly’s work, so we know what convinced them to recommend amalgamation, if financial considerations aren’t front and centre.

We can see how consistent standards in zoning and business regulations may be beneficial should the city and the municipality unite and share one set of bylaws and permits. But surely this could be done as a cooperative agreement between the two without the upheaval and expense (because yes, it would cost money to bring the two together) of amalgamation.

Because Duncan is so small in geographic area, with people living and working in the city on one side of the street in the urban core and finding themselves in North Cowichan on the other, there certainly can be some confusion, and possibly discord (Duncan prohibits backyard burning, for example, while North Cowichan still allows it for brief periods each year).

But so far we’re not convinced of the benefit.