Saturday, October 02, 2010

Amalgamation

I have been doing some reading about municipal amalgamations in BC and there have been a number of them. Here is a list of the more significant ones in the last 45 years:

1995 Matsqui - Abbotsford
1980 Chilliwack City - Chilliwack DM
1973 Kamloops - North Kamloops - Valleyview - Dufferin
1972 Abbotsford - Sumas Prarie
1969 Mission - Mission City
1967 Alberni - Port Alberni

I raise the ones above because they clearly show that amalgamation was a benefit to the community on many levels, in fact there is no evidence of any downside from them.  The process produced better communities that could deliver more services for less money and reflect a more realistic geographic community.  Is there anyone out there that thinks North Kamloops should be created now?   Or a return to Matsqui?   There is nothing to be found online indicating anyone would like to see the return of the old municipalities.

Once we have an amalgamated city in this region, the benefits will quickly erase any desire of anyone to return to old municipal boundaries.   Once Oak Bay is gone, no one will mourn it because there is no real community of Oak Bay, only a series of neighbourhoods within our city.   

The provincial government provides funding for communities to investigate amalgamation, the local governments of Greater Victoria should access this money and start the process.  There are communities in BC doing this at the moment.  Currently Trail, Warfield and Rossland are talking about amalgamation as are Fruitvale, Montrose and Area A of the Kootenay Boundary Regional District.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are many examples of amalgamations that have been complete failures, Halifax and Montreal being the most prominent.
Greater Victoria is consistently rated one of the best places in North America to live. Does the current form of governance deserve no credit for this? Is bigger always better? It is proven that large bureaucracies are hopelessly inefficient. Oak Bay is a community and it is absurd that you would suggest they are not.
We can improve in the CRD for sure but lets stop pretending that amalgamation is a magic bullet of some sort.

Anonymous said...

Bigger is not always better, and large bureaucracies are sometimes hopelessly inefficient.

As far as police services go, however, one police service for 300,000 people doesn't sound unmanageable. Having a bunch of smaller police services, I know has created jurisdictional problems, resulting in the lack of communication and coordination between services. I would argue that by amalgamating police services in Greater Victoria, these services would gain tactical advantages -- if well-managed of course.

As well, an amalgamated force would be cheaper to administrate. Any savings could be used to reduce property taxes.

It would certainly cost less to administer 1, rather than 6 or 7, city or district councils. Again, any savings could be used to reduce property taxes.


Would there be savings, probably. If those savings were returned to the residents of Greater Victoria would it be acceptable to the people of Greater Victoria, Maybe. Would it be easy, No.

At some point, the provincial will impose amalgamation, like the Ontario government did in Toronto to Hamilton. Or some transition plan could be developed by the municipalities and districts involved.

If amalgamation was done for the purpose of savings monies which would then be used to reduce property taxes it might be doable.

Mark

Bernard von Schulmann said...

There is no history of forced amalgamation in BC. And I do not think that will change in my lifetime.

The history of forced amalgamations in Canada has not been positive, the track record of voluntary amalgamations has been good in BC

james anderson said...

excuse me but back in the 70 s the province did force amalgamation on three communities. kelowna , kamloops and nanaimo but failed to deal with other bovious places ie: WL, Duncan/Cowichan ,North and west vancouver , vernon/coldstream, or the 2 langleys.. james anderson

L Richard said...

I live in the former District of Matsqui, amalgamated with the City of Abbotsford. Since we have amalgamated our property taxes have doubled, the police are nowhere to be found (too busy downtown is the standard response) & they are constantly thinking of new ways to tax us. The latest is telling the residents of the former Matsqui that they are responsible for maintaining the City's ditches. Not only must they maintain them, they must purchase permits to do so. We have no street lights, no sewer, no sidewalks, biweekly garbage pick up only.
No downside? Think again!!!