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Provincial Funding Approved for North Cowichan and Duncan Amalgamation Study
September 26, 2016
(September 26, 2016) The Municipality of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan are pleased to announce that the Province of British Columbia has approved one-third funding (up to $47,000) to conduct an amalgamation study. This includes hiring a consultant to lead a Citizens' Assembly to make recommendations to both Councils on whether to amalgamate the two municipalities.
As part of the 2014 Municipal elections, both Duncan and North Cowichan Councils agreed to include on the ballot a non-binding opinion question in regards to exploring the costs and benefits of amalgamating the two municipalities. In North Cowichan, 68% of electors and in Duncan, 52% of electors voted in favour of conducting an amalgamation study.
"This process will give residents of both the City of Duncan and the Municipality of North Cowichan a clearer understanding of the local government context and provide the opportunity to engage in discussions about issues, priorities and other potential areas of interest within both communities", said Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.
"With the Province on board to contribute funding," noted Mayor Jon Lefebure, "we continue to make strides towards our goal of completing the entire study process within budget and the current term of this Council."
"The consultant will be randomly selecting citizens from both municipalities to participate in the Citizens' Assembly," said Mayor Phil Kent, "it's our hope that this dialogue will give residents ownership over the final recommendations."
With provincial funding now in place, both Councils have accepted the proposal for the Citizens' Assembly Consultant from MASS LBP. MASS LBP was founded in 2007 and has since become Canada's recognized leader in the design of deliberative processes.
"British Columbia is recognized internationally for its pioneering use of citizen deliberation and this project will be part of this important democratic tradition," says Peter MacLeod, principal of MASS LBP. "Beginning in November, 5,000 randomly selected households will receive a letter inviting residents to volunteer to serve on the Assembly. This is a special opportunity to truly shape the future of this community."
Both municipalities recognize that citizen guidance is essential during this process. The Citizens' Assembly will hear from experts in local government, review the results of an amalgamation study and make recommendations to both Councils in 2017.