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Councillor wants amalgamation on fall election ballot

Jennifer Woike -
Jennifer Woike
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The longstanding question of a Duncan/North Cowichan amalgamation has resurfaced.

Councillor Jennifer Woike will ask North Cowichan tomorrow to back her notice of motion seeking a non-binding question on the local Nov. 15 civic election ballot to gauge general voter support for amalgamation of North Cowichan and Duncan.

“It’s moot if the city doesn’t follow suit,” she said.

But if half of North Cowichan’s voters favour joining the city in some kind of restructure, further debate and study could happen.

“I’d say 50% (voter interest) is fair; that’s what council bases local area petitions on.”

Woike admitted recurring questions of amalgamation, and forming several Cowichan municipalities, is a long haul.

“Amalgamation of Duncan and North Cowichan would be the beginning of a more regionalized governance.”

Her long-term vision is cleaving Cowichan into two or three municipalities, and scrubbing service duplication.

“Long term, I’d like to see us do away with the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

“We have 18 volunteer fire departments. Is that efficient?”

Amalgamation would also offer Cowichanians “a sense of place,” she said.

“We’d have to rebrand ourselves as a valley, and unique municipalities. That’s something North Cowichan struggles to do, and it’s not working.

“So little information flows from the CVRD back to North Cowichan, and it’s hard to keep track of who’s responsible for what.

“If we can get something that interests people, maybe we can increase voter turnout.

“Even if we can get the conversation happening, we’re winning,” Woike said.

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