Disagreement about amalgamation is not surprising because this thorny issue has been contentious for decades.
We applaud four former Comox Valley mayors – Fred Bates, Greg Phelps, Bronco Moncrief and Ron Webber — for broaching the subject of combining our three municipalities into one.
Current mayors Larry Jangula, Paul Ives and Leslie Baird are opposed. We will not assume it’s simply because at least two of them would be out of a job, as some are already suggesting.
There is an argument to be made pro and con.
• Fewer personnel would be needed in an amalgamated city hall, reducing costs for beleaguered taxpayers.
• One united municipal government representing almost 50,000 people would have greater clout when lobbying senior levels of government.
• Job loss from layoffs of staff, removing paycheques from a region that doesn’t have an abundance of secure, well-paying jobs with benefits.
• A potential loss of identity on a combined municipal council likely formed by population numbers. Cumberland would be especially vulnerable.
Cumberlanders shouldn’t be too quick to spurn the notion, though. Infrastructure, most visibly village roads, is run down, thanks to a predominantly residential taxbase.
If this does go to referendum, voters would have to know the assets and liabilities of each current municipality to make an informed decision.
Imagine the displeasure of West Germans after the Berlin Wall fell and they had to absorb an inefficient, indebted East German economy.
The Comox Valley is not as ludicrously overgoverned as Greater Victoria, and amalgamation negotiations would be complicated, but if Israelis and Arabs can negotiate the occasional peace treaty, anything is possible.
To start the ball rolling, we offer Courtomoxland as a name for our new, larger city. Any better ideas? E-mail or Facebook them to us.