Editorial: City of Duncan’s expansion dreams will likely be dashed

The city’s tiny geographic footprint, one square mile, the smallest city in Canada, is a problem

They can talk about it all they like, but we doubt they will be successful.

The City of Duncan is looking, as it has intermittently over the years, at expanding its boundaries.

The city’s tiny geographic footprint, one square mile, the smallest city in Canada, is a problem, particularly as it looks to a future where it will inevitably tip over the 5,000 resident mark and be required to pay for policing. As we discovered during the amalgamation process, Duncan is also anticipating the need for some significant infrastructure replacement in the coming years. There is only so much physical space for infilling within the city’s current boundaries. For this reason Duncan has looked for opportunities to expand its tax base by taking in more land over the decades.

The problem for them is that it’s unlikely any of their neighbours will want to give up land adjacent to the city. Regional district electoral areas D and E, along with North Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes hold lands to the south, while North Cowichan surrounds Duncan on all other sides.

Thing is, businesses and industry have expanded out into these areas over the years already, and it is highly unlikely anyone would want to give up lucrative commercial or industrial areas of their tax base.

It wasn’t that long ago that the City of Duncan made a serious push to have the Eagle Heights region of Area E moved within its borders, which failed. We don’t expect much more success this time around.

Another stumbling block when looking at annexing land from the electoral areas is that often residents and other taxpayers in the areas in question don’t want the tax increase that would come with inclusion in the City of Duncan.

Last year City of Duncan residents voted not to amalgamate with the Municipality of North Cowichan, preferring to retain the city’s unique character and autonomy. But the issues that had the city considering a merger remain.

The city must try for expansion, but it doesn’t appear they have many bargaining chips. We’ll continue watching with interest.

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