Monday, February 07, 2011

So how crazy are our municipal boundaries?

This is the street I live on, one side is Saanich and the other is Victoria.  

View Larger Map

There is nothing to differentiate one side of the street from the other, we are all neighbours.  We use the same stores, walk on the same streets, and go to the same rec centre.  I am a short distance from my neighbour, but I have different police force, a different fire service, different bylaws and different planning.

There are numerous examples of neighbourhoods that are divided by municipal boundaries in this region.  In total there are more than 82 kilometers of boundaries between local governments in the CRD.   If you look at the border areas of municipalities, the area within 250 meters of a a neighbouring municipality, there are 41,000 hectares of land in this region that is on the border of a neighboring municipality.   This is an area as large as Langford or Central Saanich.

Border areas of all local governments are treated as being on the edge and a major impact of this is that planning.  Local governments draw up their plans as if the border is the end of the world and is not the core or focus of the municipality.   This means that we have lower quality planning in an area that is more than four times the size of Oak Bay.

Any planning done for my neighbourhood should be done as if their were no municipal boundary at all.  Instead the planning is done as if the world ends at the border - you could almost put "Here be dragons" on the white spaces at the edges of our local government planning maps.

And if this is not bad enough, imagine living in a house that falls into to two municipalities.    You have two sets of by-laws, two planning department, two fire departments and more.   And the really wild thing is that you may live in two municipalities, but you are not allowed to vote in both.     There may not be many properties like this, but the very fact that there are any simply highlights the fundamentally screwy way the boundaries are drawn in this region.


View Larger Map - the house on the left is in Oak Bay and Victoria

If not amalgamation, how about just make sure that all municipal boundaries follow some sort of natural border?
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