Saturday, October 9, 2010

Amalgamation May Help Get People Out to Vote

The fact that fewer than one in four vote in municipal elections is a problem. It is a problem caused by the fact that few care about a small community organization.

Think about how many people actually come out and vote for the directors or help organize community organizations such as BARA or the North Quadra Land Use Protection Association. As a percentage of the population it is very small.

Our municipalities are the same. They are in fact not much more than residential associations. The CRD deals with some of the bigger issues. This may be a bit exaggerated but the point is clear. Without a regional government which we all know affects the whole region, we are not going to get too excited about voting.

Instead of 91 elected representatives making in most cases a nominal part time income, there could be 12 full time positions paying a “living wage”.

That might create interest in the campaign.

If we want more interest in what the local government is doing and who is doing it, a step in the right direction will be to focus on fewer positions and without doubt fewer competent candidates.

An entire community focused on the same issues can create interest.

If you live in Saanich and work in Victoria with people from Langford, do you really care what the issues are in the Langford election? Not really. Are you going to talk about them, and encourage each other to get out and vote? No.

Now if we were all concerned about the same issues, we might just start all talking about them and in turn create community interest.

We do not have community interest because we are all blended together daily and yet are forced to have “different elections.” No one, not one person here can say they have no one in their lives that does not live in another city. Most of us have friends all over. This fact helps reduce the interest of everyone in an election. We have no common ground to talk about the issues and the candidates’ positions on them.

No promise here, but it is a good and reasonable bet that an amalgamated city or two will generate a somewhat higher interest in elections and participation by the electorate.

Numerous Police Agencies Needed to Deal With Just a Few People

The idea was to find and arrest drug dealers who frequent downtown. It was reported on October 6, 2010 that to do so:

1. Victoria police and the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team arrested a Saanich man and a Nanaimo man in Saanich and View Royal.
2. Victoria police and the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team raided a Langford home, with help from the West Shore RCMP and the RCMP Emergency Response Team.

There is a problem here. It is obvious that the extra effort in our small city, of having to coordinate all these different organizations, should not be required and gives a huge advantage to the criminals we seek to be protected from.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why Amalgamating Policing is NOT Enough

If it were thought that simply amalgamating policing might be a good idea and thus reduce the need to amalgamate the cities, one need only see what happened in Victoria/Esquimalt to see why this is not sufficient.

Esquimalt refused to pay $400,000.00 towards the policing budget for the two cities. Victoria was then required to make submissions to the BC Government, which in turn was required to spend time and resources considering the issue and in the result ordered that Esquimalt pay anyway.

At least pay most of it. They can now avoid paying, from $9,000 to $11,000, for their share of two extra officers.

So while the two cities share policing services, there are now different levels of service being offered and paid for in the two cities by the same department. The amount may be small but it is the start of differing level of service being mandated by the fact that each council wishes to pay a different amount. Perhaps the services are offered equitably but now Victoria is paying for services given to Esquimalt.

It is pointless to have the debate, at this level as to who should pay. Certainly the Police Board can debate the issue as can the city council, but to then have this level of counterproductive disputes cries out for the need to amalgamate the Cities of Victoria and Esquimalt.

Perhaps we could at least start there and then look further afield.