Sure, we elect our mayor and council to make decisions on our behalf.
We vote for the person we think will make the decision we would make if we were sitting at the council table and let them duke it out week after week.
Sometimes we’re pleased with the results and sometimes, not so much.
But there are times when the electorate must be asked its opinion on a matter of governance.
It’s written into the local government act that if a municipality wants to borrow over a certain amount, it has to hold a referendum asking taxpayers to approve. Usually this is done to replace or create large infrastructure such as a hockey arena or fire hall. Sometimes the public agrees and sometimes it says no.
Most referendums are non-binding, this means that no matter the result, council can still make a decision contrary to the voters’ wishes, although flying in the face of public opinion is rarely the popular option.
The question of amalgamation is one that rears its head, oh let’s say every three years or so. This year, the subject has been pushed forward into the public realm like nothing we’ve seen before. Thus, councils around the region are debating the merits of asking their residents if they are interested in combining municipalities.
Anecdotally, we hear Oak Bay residents say ‘no thanks’ to amalgamation.
It’s the likelihood that amalgamation will not be of interest to Oak Bay voters that had council members hemming and hawing their way through a discussion this week that clearly they didn’t want to have.
Some of them actually made faces as they voted on the motion, like petulant children being pulled kicking and screaming from the candy store. There were no guns present, let alone any being held to anyone’s head. We’ve never heard so much negative commentary on a motion, then seen all of council vote for it.
This is democracy in action, even if you have to hold your nose and vote.