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Vision 2012: politics now

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It was 100 years ago that Duncan said so-long to North Cowichan, and took 345 hectares with it.

A century later, those boundaries haven't changed.

And only time will tell if Duncan's bicentennial will celebrate a larger city, or the amalgamation of Cowichan's urban core into a larger municipality.

But Duncan Mayor Phil Kent says there's definitely room — and reason — for Duncan to grow its borders.

"I think the missed opportunity might have been when the regional district systems were being established," he said. "The city might have tried to capture areas outside of its existing boundaries for the future."

Many outside Duncan's official border receive services from the city, not to mention shop in its stores and spend time in its parks, but don't have a say via political representation.

Kent said it's hard to say what new boundaries could look like, but the city has been looking at expansion into some of the Cowichan Valley Regional District areas in recent years.

"We've done some work toward getting feedback on that, working with the province on what would be a reasonable structure for expansion, and at this point from a technical perspective the province sees no issue with what we would be pursuing for restructure, but there's the whole public portion of it," Kent said.

Citizens of both the city and the impacted areas would have to be on board.

"In the past when there were talks about amalgamation or (restructure) they did not receive assent from the public, but that's not to say (that will be the case in) the future," Kent said.

"When we talk about things like transit and other services, can we gain better efficiency by having a larger city? Is amalgamation or partial amalgamation with North Cowichan part of the answer? What about restructure with the regional district?"

Those are questions that would need public input, Kent stressed.

"For any community to make progress — and that's the motto on the crest of the city: unity and progress — people have to be actively engaged," he said.

And as Duncan celebrates its past for its centennial, it also should be looking toward its future.

"I'm not suggesting Duncan will be a metropolis any time soon, but if you look at cities like Victoria or Vancouver, even 50 or 60 years ago, you see the differences," Kent said.

"We often tend to plan too short-term. We're trying to look 50 years into the future and see where we might be heading."

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