Island eyes amalgamations

Residents of Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island go to the polls today to vote on amalgamating Duncan and North Cowichan into a single municipality.

The referendum ballot asks residents whether they're in favour of forming a single seven-member council to govern the region's 35,000 residents.

"Absolutely no. Under no circumstances," Duncan Coun. Sharon Jackson told CTV on Friday. "There is no benefit. The citizen's assembly and the technical report said there'd be no cost savings."

"It's a complete and utter loss of autonomy, the loss of our being able to set our own direction."

Meanwhile, business owner Chad Gurski is firmly in favour.

"The City of Duncan is one square mile and a little under 5,000 people, and I don't think it's really important that we have one council representing that small an area and that small a population," he said.

In Victoria, politicians are keeping an eye on the vote as they ponder a possible referendum on amalgamation with Saanich.

"Both of our residents, in different ways, in the last election asked for the question of amalgamation or at least better regional governance to be explored," Mayor Lisa Helps said.

The two councils will meet on Tuesday to discuss the matter, with a possible question on election ballots this fall.

– with files from CTV Vancouver Island


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