Cumberland council sees no benefit for Cumberland to amalgamate with the rest of the Valley, as proposed by four former Comox Valley mayors.
Two former Cumberland mayors, Fred Bates and Bronco Moncrief, and former Courtenay mayors Greg Phelps and Ron Webber recently called for Cumberland, Courtenay, Comox and a large swath of the Comox Valley Regional District to amalgamate.
More weight when asking for provincial and federal funding, and a desire for less local government were a couple reasons for their proposal. Their aim was to push the Province to lead an amalgamation and have it complete in time for next year’s municipal elections.
Mayor Leslie Baird of Cumberland has already said she’s personally against the idea of Cumberland amalgamating — specifically noting increased expenses to Cumberland taxpayers, such as paying for policing costs. But, she put the matter on Monday’s agenda to hear what other members of council had to say about it.
All councillors loudly echoed her opinion.
Coun. Gwyn Sproule, who represents Cumberland on the CVRD board, agreed it would be too expensive for Cumberland residents, adding the CVRD is already in place and provides an avenue for cost sharing on regional projects.
“I can’t see any reason whatsoever for Cumberland to amalgamate,” she said, pointing out Cumberland council was not approached for input before the former mayors made their announcement.
Coun. Roger Kishi agreed.
“What concerns me the most about this press release that these four former mayors have put out is that they didn’t talk to any of the other local governments before,” he said. “And, to put out in a press release that they want the Province to force this on the Comox Valley is irresponsible.”
Coun. Conner Copeman added he believes local government is working well as is, and the idea that amalgamation would save taxpayers’ dollars was “ludicrous.”
Coun. Kate Greening said the former mayors weren’t so vocal about amalgamation when they were in office.
“All I can recall is that when these guys were mayors that they didn’t talk about amalgamation,” she continued. “Unlike them, I think that we’re a council that does studies and we actually do something with them, rather than just gathering dust and using them as a doorstop.”
Baird added she’s received numerous phones calls and comments from residents, and none of those people saw any benefit to Cumberland.
Amalgamation was voted down in 1999, with Courtenay in favour and Comox against. Cumberland was not included in that amalgamation vote.