I find it hard to believe that anyone who is or has been involved with any level of government would make the statement that we “should be forced to merge.”
That is a ludicrous statement in that the Province does not have the legislative power to force amalgamation.
When this issue was front and centre in 1998/99, I had the opportunity to ask then-Minister of Municipal Affairs James Doyle if his ministry would force amalgamation.
The answer as I recall was “not only would they not but they could not,” as legislation demanded that if a community’s tax base was impacted by a circumstance then the community had the right, either by referendum or counter petition, to have their franchise exercised.
We, as taxpayers, have the right to determine our own destiny and that is democracy. Governments forcing us to do things that might not be in our best interests is dictatorial and draconian.
Anyone who is on a limited, fixed income should think long and hard before they decide that they are in favour of amalgamation.
It has been stated that there are four Administrators. Well, mark my word, not one of them will be fired. If anything there will be an executive director hired to oversee the existing ones. This will happen at all levels of the bureaucracy.
To say nothing of the policing costs, full-time paid fire department and new facilities to house them. It has been said that if we had one council it would be more co-operative and function better. Take a look at Toronto; they don’t seem to be getting along too well.
The key to better local governance is for more people to get involved. Go to council meetings, ask questions, and keep their noses to the grindstone.
When we sit back and allow council to act of their own accord and only participate at election time, then we get what we deserve.
Amalgamation will only be democratic if they first hold a plebiscite to see if the community is even interested in reviewing the situation. Only then should a study be commissioned and, with full knowledge to go by, hold a referendum.
That way the electorate have been involved at all levels, and no one is” forced” to accept anything that they don’t want.
D.W. (Don) Davis,
Editor’s note: Don Davis is a former elected member of Comox council.