Oak Bay’s mayor is concerned with what he calls misinformation spread by a group calling for amalgamation in the Capital Region.
Nils Jensen said he wants to be proactive and open in dealing with the Capital Region Municipal Amalgamation Society, also known as Amalgamation Yes, and the “spin” they may spread. The group is petitioning to have a question on the topic be placed on the ballot during next year’s municipal election.
“The one statement I heard from one representative suggested that there had been no planning at the regional level,” Jensen said, explaining that he interpreted that as meaning the Capital Regional District has no regional community, growth or transportation plans in place. “In fact, there is a significant effort to do just that. The province mandates that we must have one in place and we are in the process of updating what is now called the regional sustainable strategy.”
Jensen said he doesn’t agree with amalgamation because Oak Bay functions well as a small community where residents have a direct say in local issues. He also cited increased costs that other communities experienced after amalgamation.
“We are very fortunate in Oak Bay to have a very well-functioning community, socially, economically and environmentally,” Jensen said.
“If we are one large municipality, the contact people have with the mayor and council would be less direct.
“I ascribe to the principle that small is beautiful.”
Amalgamation Yes secretary Earle Anthony said he welcomes the mayor and council to correct any information members of his group put forth and that each side needs to be vigilant in doing so if errors continue to happen.
“If we make a mistake, we stand corrected,” said Anthony, who lives in Oak Bay. “We want an honest and unclouded discussion about it.”
Amalgamation Yes is holding meetings throughout the Capital Region, including in Oak Bay, to discuss amalgamation with the public.
Anthony said the group has no personal beef against elected officials, but hopes the province will undertake a study and find an appropriate amalgamation model.
“We think they are good people,” he said of local politicians. “The problem is the broken system, not the people trying to make it work.”
In a letter to council dated Sept. 30, Anthony wrote that the society’s purpose is to “achieve more effective and accountable governance within the Capital Region through municipal amalgamation.”