Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Notes from the Tables at the Conversation on Amalgamation

I will post here the information collected from the February 7th Conversation on Amalgamation over the next day.   Here is the first part, the notes from the tables.   

The information comes from Matt Wright and it should also all be up on soon

Tables were asked two questions, "What don't we know?" and "What could we share?"

Table A:
What We Don’t Know:
-What is it going to look like?
-What are the unknowns?
-What would it cost to run each municipality so then what would it cost to amalgamate regions?
-What would be the cost savings?
-What things are missing so we know how we benefit?
-What are the gaps and holes between municipalities?
-What are the functions and what is being spent?
-What are the expectations filled by the economy of scale?
-What are the basics? e.g. What are the personal interests?
-How can you make an informed decision without adequate information?
-What are the overlaps?
-Do we have real evidence that supports amalgamation?
-What does it cost to run a similar size city? (e.g. Windsor; London,Ontario). Police/fire/functions of gov.
-How can we learn from the experiences from other amalgamated cities? Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal. What are some options?
-What values do people have in their heads when they form an opinion either for or against amalgamation?
-Can we qualify for more federal dollars?
-What is the legal process to accomplish any form of amalgamation?
What values does each member of the table have from where they live?
1) Saanich- police department- likes the contact with people (community sense); access to services and politicians.
2) Oak Bay- human relationships; human scale contact, don’t see the common benefits to everyone.
3) North Saanich- recreation, police presence, small community contract, size of community, iter community cooperation
4) Victoria- value and appreciate sense of community; lacking shared interest in future e.g. rapid transit, cooperation reduction of waste and redundancy.
5) Oak Bay- new from Kelowna value local level of service ensuring that doesn’t get out of touch due to size.
6)Saanich- values focussed goal for entire region and work towards common benefit; lack of unified vision; value small neighbourhoods;
7) Victoria- values; direct access to politicians; need controlled growth strategy; go green, work together e.g. homelessness
8) Esquimalt- values safety and security of community spirit and involvement; enjoys being able to talk to politician
Real costs and benefits that needs to be paid attention to. need to know what grant structure is between the feds and province Where does the perceived need for change come from? How can we deal with larger issues such as regional transportation?

Table B
-Why can’t we integrate?
-Why no political will?
-Why political muni[cipalitie]s not interested?
-Why such disparity in CRD? #/pop
-$ for public = some for V.Island
-Why doesn’t CREST work?
-Why are politicians not accountable?
-Why is not an election issue?
-Who would benefit?
= lower taxes
=easier better services

Table C
What could we share?
1. Not; zoning (well, maybe): personal information
2.Everything; IT systems, payroll, contracting, HR, snow clearing, policing, fire, deer culling/wild animal control
3. Zoning bylaws

Table D
Recreational Facilities- no no issues with bringing under CRD control.
Tourism/Chamber Commerce; greater benefit derived from cooperation, already follow Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. Same with Tourism Vic.
Airports- coop w/ Fed Gov, no buy in from First Nations until their needs all all met.
Table E
What don’t we know?
-person #1- Land surveyor- Oak Bay and Victoria- Pro Amalgamation
-person #2- Came to learn- needs more info to vote
-person #3- Accidental guest- Victoria Center needs more
-person #4- Langford from Toronto- In favour of amalgamation History and Efficiency
-person #5- Langford from Calgary- pro amalgamation
-person #6 and person #7- 35 years in Kamloops then Victoria; efficiency and quality has been proven by history over time, most of the jealousies are worked out, may create a better community.
-person #7-Chamber of Commerce, Harbour Air, Victoria, Sooke, East Saanich;
-There are significant business challenges to amalgamate.
-Water Districts took six years to clean up bureaucratic messes
Identity is not lost because of amalgamation comes from the community not governance.
Gov Services;
-The decision needs to be made whether to conduct business at what level.
Grand Scale= CRD
Large Scale= District/Westshore/Sidney Peninsula
Small Scale= by municipality
-We need to know what areas of commonality there are, what’s being duplicated and what’s not being done.
-What can be centralized.
-What are the hidden costs to the various players (Fed Gov, Prov Gov, First Nations, 13 Municipalities, CRD)
-CRD should be Sooke to Sidney
-What do we want Victoria to look like in 50 years? planned by developers or managed growth by an urban planning group? Is there a limit to growth?
-Are we willing to have a ballot that states: ‘Are you in favour of having an amalgamated Victoria?’
-How will a Greater Victoria area deal with community associations and their agendas?
-Would an amalgamated movement be willing to compromise on preserving local conditions (tax rates, zoning etc.) in order to boost amalgamation?
-What’s going to change?
-How are we going to ensure that everybody gets representation?
Question 2)
a)What could we share?
b) What common approaches can we take?
yes- police- can be done without changes to municipal act, only to the police act. Easy Test?
yes- fire
yes- Emergency Services- under a provincial agency
yes- CRD Parks- no issues under regional system
yes- Public Transportation LRT? roadbed laid, Road beds
no- Sewers expensive and no infrastructure, no sewage treatment plant
yes- Waste Management -same landfill -hartland
yes- Education quasi provincial, CRD boards public and
separate and private
yes- Municipal Governance governed without the smaller municipal model biases
yes- Administrative Services
yes- Urban Planning-Could see a greater vision and longer team planning ability. what will Victoria look like in 50 years?

Table F
What don’t we know?
-what is lip service and what is real action?
-what should and should not be done?
-what are the problems we are trying to solve?
-what economic efficiencies are there/
-what is the cost?
What could we share?

Table G
What don’t we know?
-what components will be amalgamated? What services?
What could be shared?
-Police, fire etc.
-consolidate long range planning. roads. infrastructure

Table H
What don’t we know?
-We don’t know the details of the complexities of interaction between players (municipalities).
-we don’t know what is getting done
-we don’t know what is not getting done
-we don’t know what the consensus is
-we don’t know what problems we are trying to solve
-we don’t know what efficiencies/inefficiencies exist today
-we don’t know if we really are broken
- we don’t know who determines the balance between stakeholders
-we don’t know why the growth plan’s strategies don’t fit together
-we don’t know what works and what doesn’t

Table I
with amalgamation;
-Savings will be automatic, if the culture of it is less.
-Saanich enjoys low taxes and has the entitlements of these citizens using the services of Victoria i.e. shopping, restaurants, policing and they don’t pay for it.
-we all have our personal, vested interests but are they fair and reasonable?
-we have to talk together and look at the big picture.
-13 municipalities/mayors and multiple councillors 13 fire chiefs/services is ridiculous
what could we share or common approaches could we take?
-share infrastructure costs
-we are like 13 tribes, we have ‘tribal thinking’

Table J
What Don’t We Know?
-what would new model look like?
-why the mayors are opposed?
-don’t have hard data
-cost of transition
-don’t know id amalgamation would work
-don’t know the issues of amalgamation
-don’t know what best of Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg
-don’t know about Abbotsford, Matsqui
-What model works?
-don’t know who is doing what well.
-What are advantages of current system?
-82% in favor
-why councillor has switched
-what municipalities do business prefer to working
-what muni’s do people prefer to live in?
-Ontario was forced amalgamation
-don’t know best practices
-if different politics of municipalities would work don’t know what shared services could help us
-don’t know top five reasons why not
-don’t know the governance of the CRD or municipalities
-we don’t know what we would lose in terms of territory- who’s in and who’s out.
-we don’t know which amalgamations have been successful or which parts of other Canadians have been successful and not successful
-will BC Government fund a study to answer questions?
Shared Approaches;
-transportation, garbage collection
-share planning department
-share best practices
-share list of services
-share public works, planning tools, parks and rec, taxation collection, finance and admin
Rural toolkits/urban toolkits
union involvement
look at options for ‘wards’
look at what others are doing
how did they get to more sharing
use social media to get more people in the conversation.
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