Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Last night's amalgamation conversation

The turn out was much, much lower than in February, only 42 people attended last night - I know the media reports say 30, but I counted all the people in the room and got to 42.   I am disappointed to see the turn out was so low, but for a host of reasons I was not surprised at the turn out.  
  • We are further away from the municipal elections
  • There was a lot of media coverage of the first conversation
  • There was no mechanism in place for people who came the first time to get involved and get active
  • It has not been easy for people to access the results of the last conversation
On the other hand, there is more energy out there in greater Victoria on the issue of amalgamation in a long time.   I know of at several groups that are actively meeting and talking about how to move forward with amalgamation in this region.  The problem is that the groups are all too small and are not cooperating in their efforts.   Actually, even worse, the groups do not seem to be aware of each other.  I only know of two of them via rumour and have asked some people to get in me in contact with those groups.

Even though the turn out was low last night, what was good is that the discussion had some clear ideas on ways to move the issue forward.  The two biggest ideas that the most interest were:
  • Get one or more municipalities in the CRD apply soon to the Solicitor General to hold a referendum on support for amalgamation during the 2014 municipal elections.   The idea is that this will offer the start of a gauge of public support for amalgamation.  The other hope is that by committing to the referendum very early on, this will spur other municipalities into holding the same referendum.
  • The other idea is Jim Legh's idea of running one person for each council in this region with the slate name "Yes to Amalgamation" beside their name on the ballot.   The campaign would be a proxy for the lack of a local referendum on the issue.  The candidates would ask people to only vote for them if they supported the idea of amalgamation.   It is the only functional way the public to approximate a referendum on amalgamation.   A lot of work, resources and volunteers would be needed to make this work, but the reaction night was very positive to the idea.
The people last night were also a group that was very clearly in favour of some form of amalgamation.   At the first conversation about 1/3 of the people were not supportive of the idea.   The room was also less Victoria dominated this time around, most people were from other municipalities.

The room may only have had 42 people, but in looking around the room I saw the core of a group that have the skills, energy and ability to move this issue forward.   There needs to be an active steering committee that comes up with a plan of action and gets the issue moving, I am hoping the core that were there last night will be the ones to be that steering committee.   
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