Duncan-North Cowichan Citizens' Assembly Gets Underway

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, the Duncan-North Cowichan Citizens' Assembly 36 randomly selected local residents tasked with considering the potential amalgamation of Duncan and North Cowichan - met for the first time.

 Over the next four months, the Citizens' Assembly will hear from more than 20 speakers including experts in municipal governance, as well as local business, civic and Indigenous leaders. The Assembly will also receive the report of the technical consultants who have been hired to conduct a rigorous assessment of the proposed merger. They will consider the needs of local residents and the implications of creating a new, amalgamated municipal structure. The Assembly's report, containing a recommendation concerning amalgamation, is expected to be delivered to both Duncan and North Cowichan Councils in mid-May. Any proposal to amalgamate would still need the approval of both Councils, the provincial government, and residents by public referendum.

"The decision to merge two municipalities has far-reaching consequences and deserves careful examination," says Assembly Chair, Peter MacLeod. "The Citizens' Assembly is a sincere effort to bring local residents to the table and provide clear guidance to both Councils."

 Members of the Citizens' Assembly were selected in a blind draw designed to produce a group that is gender-balanced and that roughly matches the demographic profile of both communities. In December 2016, 10,000 households in Duncan and North Cowichan were randomly selected by Canada Post to receive a letter inviting residents to volunteer for the Assembly. A total of 147 individuals volunteered to serve on the Assembly and, of this pool of candidates, 36 were blindly selected to participate.

 Cowichan Valley residents interested in learning more about the Assembly and sharing their views on municipal amalgamation are encouraged to attend two public roundtable meetings:

  • Thursday, February 2 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.  at the Island Savings Centre
  • Thursday, April 6 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. at the Island Savings Centre

For more information about the Citizens' Assembly, and to sign-up to receive updates, please visit: dnc-cama.ca

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Background

  • 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.
  • 10,000 households in Duncan and North Cowichan were randomly selected by Canada Post to receive an invitation to participate
  • 227 households responded indicating their interest in the process
  • 147 individuals volunteered to serve on the Assembly
  • 36 members of the Citizens' Assembly were selected by random draw from the pool of registered volunteers to produce a composition that roughly matches the demographic profile of both communities:
    • 18 men and 18 women;
    • 12 members from Duncan, and 24 members from North Cowichan, representing its four distinct communities and its rural areas;
    • a proportionate number of members from each of four age groups; and
    • two members who self-identify as Indigenous.
  • Final Report from the Citizens' Assembly is expected in May
  • Any proposed amalgamation would need to go to a public referendum