Co-operation, yes amalgamation, no

Distinct nature of Oak Bay demands its own administration

Few would argue that more efficient government is something that all municipalities should strive for. And logic tells you that the amalgamation of some of the 13 Greater Victoria municipalities would result in the elimination of some duplication of services that should lessen the load on taxpayers.

But the cost of those savings on the fabric of the community is something that Oak Bay residents need to consider very carefully.

The question of amalgamation will be on the ballot when Oak Bay residents head to the polls on Saturday.

The desire for a more cohesive model for the governance of Greater Victoria is understandable but it must not come at the loss of the distinct character Oak Bay enjoys. While the referendum will not be binding on Oak Bay council, the message voters send them should be clear: we cannot afford to risk losing the qualities that makes Oak Bay what it is.

But while we may reject the call for amalgamation, we should embrace a renewed spirit of co-operation. There is much to be gained from working together.

The residents of the other Greater Victoria municipalities are our friends and co-workers. We play on each other’s sports fields and arenas, we shop at each other’s stores, we share a love of this beautiful island.

But the unique nature of Oak Bay demands its own administrative structure with its own guardians to protect the values of the community.

A community is more than the pipes that carry our water or the streets that take us where we want to go. A community is the common thread that binds us together, it is the comfort of familiar surroundings. A community is the place we call home.