Warren Goulding column: Amalgamation: this question will be back

One pundit figures another vote can’t be any more that 40 years away.

So The Great Amalgamation Question has been answered.

But, for those of you who remain convinced a marriage between long-time friends Duncan and North Cowichan is a splendid idea, don’t worry. Be patient.

One pundit figures another vote can’t be any more that 40 years away. Another, a more optimistic type, is predicting we’ll re-open the discussion within 25 years.

So, what did we learn from the experience?

Crunching numbers in the wake of elections and referendums is best left to the political scientists and is no place for amateurs to venture.

But let’s go there, anyway. Just for fun. First of all, the voter turnout was impressive. A total of 6,421 votes were cast, clear evidence that folks felt this was an important issue. There were predictions that 500 or so Duncanites would mark a ballot. No fewer than 1,230 voted and 68 per cent said no to the plan.

That’s a pretty convincing majority in any election or referendum.

Why, we wonder?

It seems the no side was able to convince residents that policing costs and a perceived huge debt at North Cowichan would inevitably lead to higher taxes. There are large holes in both arguments, but those points seemed to resonate with voters.

It’s interesting that, overall, 53 per cent of the voters favoured amalgamation. However, the process was structured in such a way that voters in both North Cowichan and Duncan had to vote yes in order for the provincial government to approve amalgamation. And that was fair.

Marriages tend to work better when both parties think getting hitched is a good idea. Usually.

North Cowichan voters strongly supported amalgamation with 59 per cent supporting the idea. At the Maple Bay poll, 65 per cent of voters checked the yes box.

So what happened in Chemainus? Folks there came out in droves — OK, 768 of ‘em — and they didn’t want anything to do with hooking up with Duncan.

On coffee row, the theories are plentiful.

“It was parade day, maybe we thought we were voting for the best float,” one Chemainiac suggested.

“I was looking for the separation box,” one old-timer admitted. “Didn’t see it, but thought I’d better say no anyway.”

Speaking to Duncan Mayor Phil Kent at the Friday evening fundraiser for 39 Days of July, His Worship had some wise words.

“It doesn’t really matter in the big picture what happens tomorrow,” he opined. “The sun will rise and everything will be fine. We all live in a beautiful place.”

He’s right, of course.

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