Victoria and Saanich are discussing amalgamation through a citizens assembly.

This model has been used by Duncan and North Cowichan resulting in a referendum planned for June 23.

Victoria and Saanich are only 2 of 13 municipalities in the CRD, but they are the largest and it’s a start.

Municipal elections take place in Oct 2018 and our small region of 367,000 will be electing 13 mayors and an army of councilors, overseeing 13 community plans.

This defies logic if our region’s goal is good planning, consistent regulations, and a strong voice to secure govt funding for infrastructure.

Fewer municipalities means better planning for density and affordable housing, protection of environmentally sensitive areas, and investment in infrastructure.

Many small municipalities don’t have enough taxpayers to adequately fund ageing infrastructure and community services or achieve federal and provincial funding for major projects.

Regional governance enables those needs to be addressed.

For example, in 1980 Calgary began building Light Rail Transit with a population similar to ours today. The LRT was possible because Calgary has a ward system – a form of amalgamation.

Small communities are part of a single municipal council, where councilors work together on issues impacting the region.

Calgary now has a population of over one million, and the LRT has been an essential part of growth planning.

Now is the time to support Victoria and Saanich in their efforts to work together on regional governance.

Perhaps other municipalities will join their efforts to make responsible regional planning a reality in the CRD.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist newspaper.

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