Bigger is not necessarily better

I “favour” any number of things which I, nevertheless, would rank very low for the attention of my municipal council

Proponents of a single local government in the Greater Victoria area are advocating for a non-binding referendum question as part of the upcoming municipal election to gauge the position of voters.

Personally, I believe that the proponents have made a serious strategic error and the July Angus Reid/Global poll provides no relief.

There are some days that I favour amalgamation, however: The poll did not establish how vital and timely the issue is for those surveyed. I “favour” any number of things which I, nevertheless, would rank very low for the attention of my municipal council in the next four years; the poll did not establish the magnitude of the amalgamation that respondents might favour. I favour amalgamation with Saanich, but not with Victoria. I am skeptical about amalgamation that involves Oak Bay with the western communities. Clearly it is not possible for any predictive study to make any sense of amalgamation without knowing the proposed boundaries. Or a separate study could be done of each of the five or six most talked about permutations.

There is a much bigger issue that proponents fail to address.

Amalgamation within the framework of the existing provincial legislation would be nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Provincial government legislation effecting municipalities is concerned about efficiency and economy.

As a citizen, I am concerned about effectiveness. A study done under the aegis of the provincial government would not give me any comfort at all about the the future of local democracy and effective government in the communities that are important to me.

The proponents of amalgamation appear to be preoccupied with nominal efficiency, as represented by greater centralization and bureaucratization. None of their arguments reassure me that they understand the difference between bigger and better.

Personally, I would place a higher priority on a study that recommended changes to provincial legislation as it effects local government and citizenship, before a study that recommended amalgamation in the context of existing legislation.

David King

Oak Bay

 

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