Duncan-North Cowichan Citizens' Assembly Recommends Amalgamation

Duncan, BC - The Duncan-North Cowichan Citizens' Assembly on Municipal Amalgamation has recommended the amalgamation of Duncan and North Cowichan. On May 23, 2017, the Assemblys final report was presented at a special meeting of the Duncan and North Cowichan elected officials. The proposal to amalgamate still needs the approval of both Councils, the provincial government, and residents by public referendum.

The Assembly was a special initiative commissioned by both municipalities. The Assembly - 36 randomly selected local residents - met over six Saturdays from January to April to consider the potential amalgamation of Duncan and North Cowichan. During that time, they heard from 20 speakers on various topics, held two public meetings and received a technical report that examined the implications and likely financial impact of amalgamation.

"The Assembly is mindful that their recommendation carries significant implications and that this is a major undertaking," says Peter MacLeod, Assembly Chair. "Nevertheless, the Assembly reached a clear consensus and believes that Duncan and North Cowichan will be stronger together."

The Assembly cited a number of benefits to amalgamation and expects that a unified municipality will be better able to manage future growth, afford quality public services and infrastructure, and attract outside investment. The Assembly felt that residents will benefit from a more coordinated approach to local governance and planning; although, they believe the cost savings to come from amalgamation will be negligible. The Assembly was also careful to underscore the importance of protecting the area's many distinct communities. It believes the character of these communities can be preserved and enhanced through the development of a new Official Community Plan as well as local area plans.

A copy of the Assembly's Report, the Technical Report and other resources including FAQs concerning the process can be found on the Citizens' Assembly website: dnc-cama.ca

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Citizens Assembly Fact Sheet
  • 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.
  • The Assembly met over six Saturdays from January to April, during which time they:
    • hosted two public meetings open to all residents;
    • received a detailed technical report, which examined the implications and likely financial impact of amalgamation; and
    • heard from 20 speakers, including experts in municipal governance, local business owners, and civic and indigenous leaders.
  • Final Report from the Citizens Assembly was delivered at the May 23, 2017 Joint Committee of the Whole Meeting.
  • Any proposed amalgamation would need to be supported by both municipal Councils and go to a public referendum, to be held no later than autumn 2018.