The DRA Community Development Committee hosted its first Victoria Matters forum on Oct. 2nd at the Victoria Event Centre. Over 40 community members attended the event, which featured 3 speakers offering different perspectives on the question of amalgamation in the Capital Region.
Victoria police chief Jamie Graham made a compelling case for the amalgamation of Greater Victoria’s police departments. Graham argued that the policing model in the Capital Region is antiquated and irrational. He said that while a single regional force wouldn’t necessarily lead to lower costs, service levels would improve and the deployment of police resources – specialized units in particular – will be more efficient and effective.
Amalgamation Yes spokesman John Vickers argued in favour amalgamation of municipal governments in the CRD. Vickers argued that with 13 different municipal governments, 13 mayors, 76 councillors, and myriad CRD bodies, Greater Victoria is over-governed and lacks effective regional planning. Amalgamation Yes hopes to have a non-binding referendum question on amalgamation in the CRD added to the 2014 municipal election ballot.
Gaëtan Royer, former Port Moody city manager and author of Time for Cities, cautioned that the effectiveness of governance and service delivery must be viewed through a business lens. He argued that from a business standpoint, government services in the CRD are high quality and relatively efficient. Royer noted that the up-front costs of municipal amalgamation in the CRD would be huge. Merging 13 separate governments and their unique departments, bylaws, and policies would be risky, time-consuming, expensive, and possibly counter-productive, Royer warned.
After the presentations, audience members engaged in some great dialogue with the speakers, and many stayed to enjoy a beverage and continue the discussion in the Victoria Event Centre’s lounge.
The next Victoria Matters forum will be in late January at the Victoria Event Centre. Stay tuned the DRA’s website, Facebook, and newsletter for details.