Duncan councillor Sharon Jackson has 21 reasons “why we should not amalgamate”.
Known for a strong internet presence, she has posted her list on her website.
Under “Community Reasons”, her list includes: loss of community identity — no logo, no flag, no Duncan, City of Totems, no pride of place; a bigger entity means less community engagement; our City Hall ceases to be City Hall.
In addition, North Cowichan does not have a Chemainus Christmas kickoff with fireworks etc. to bring together the community and promote business, does not bring community together with a summer festival filled with events, and does not have a moss basket program for beautification and attracting tourists.
On top of that the two municipalities have “completely different civic cultures,” Jackson says. “North Cowichan is remote, professional, corporate. Duncan is professional but very much small town: neighbours serving neighbours.”
There are also governance and service reasons why amalgamation is not a good plan, according to the Duncan councillor.
“There will be little to no Duncan representation on the new council. This is why Duncan seceded over 100 years ago. What was true then is still true now…and [there could be a] significant drop in service levels for businesses and residents of the city.”
There are several important financial reasons as well, she said.
“The number of call-outs for both the South End and Duncan Fire Departments is about 700. If we amalgamate, we will require a fully or partially paid fire department…and Duncan will immediately have to begin paying for policing.
“Duncan loses our Small Community Grant of $500,000…and will be paying into the building of the multi-million dollar new police station.
“Other amalgamations have cost millions and taken 20 years. [There are] no proven cost savings. Previous amalgamations have resulted in higher taxes for all .”
Finally, when it comes to money: “The new municipality would get our 13 million in Reserve Funds as well as our yearly Police Bridging Capital Fund. North Cowichan is often criticized for its spending and debt; Duncan has always been frugal,” she said.
In addition, “North Cowichan is presently involved in troubling law suits which will become ours; Duncan has never had a boil water advisory and was voted Canada’s best drinking water in 1999 [while] North Cowichan chlorinates its water.”