Clarity about amalgamation

It's needed for the future of the Valley and the future of our children

Dear editor,

I would like to comment on recent feedback on our article regarding amalgamation of Comox Valley.

Firstly, I believe there is no need to change legislation; only policy and political will is needed to make the changes we think will improve the whole Valley.

Secondly, this is not an attempt to “jam it down people’s throats.” This topic has been chewed on for decades, and has simply come into a timely opportunity to “get on with it.” If the Province doesn’t act now, this matter will be deferred for at least another four years.

Thirdly, I would reassure Mayor Baird that at no time did we assume we were speaking for her, to her or about her. This is not about the competence or loyalty of any current, or past, politicians, but rather a recognition that united we can do much better with less resource burn.

I have heard from a Cumberland resident, “Cumberland would be the loser as our taxes would go to Courtenay to pay for policing, etc. and all we would get is improved infrastructure.” And I heard from a Courtenay resident, “Don’t include Cumberland, as all the money would go there for the infrastructure repairs.”

The reality is there would be a better use of tax dollars for all of us and a fairer sharing of all costs of services we all enjoy. We should not think about which small area will benefit the most, or we will be arguing and studying forever.

Simple math tells us that there would be less duplication of efforts as well as facilities and a significant reduction in administrative costs with Fanny Bay to Oyster River as one district government.

We have talked about regional co-operation for the past decade, but no real reduction in resource allocation has occurred.

A few years ago, I returned from a Federation of Canadian municipalities conference bringing the message from federal officials that, “There is not a Canadian city under 40,000 that will be able to afford its own water system in the future with the changing quality regulations.”

We have not seemed to take that message very seriously with the disjointed efforts in the Valley.

With one government, we would not lose identity of each area. Royston, Merville, and other outlying areas would still have their identity intact under one regional government.

In fact, keeping the local names is quite viable. The new governance model could be named something like Comox Valley District Municipality.

And for the record: This is not in any way an attempt on my part to get back into politics, which I voluntarily retired from, only my love for this Valley, and our children’s futures drive me to make the suggestion.

We must not continue to do the same things and expect different results!

Fred Bates,

Cumberland