Say no to amalgamation

Interesting 'Question of the week’ as to whether we think amalgamation between Parksville and Qualicum Beach should be a consideration.

Interesting ‘Question of the week’ posed in the The NEWS (Aug. 7) as to whether we think amalgamation between Parksville and Qualicum Beach should be a consideration for area residents.

When we moved to the area in 2001, we had what we considered a Qualicum Beach telephone number and a Parksville mailing address.

It was confusing, made even more so a few days later when we found out we weren’t living in either community — we had landed in French Creek (Area G, as it turned out, in the Regional District of Nanaimo). That was even more confusing as we were in an urban area, not a rural one.

While I think amalgamation would be less confusing to new arrivals in terms of where they are living, it would not end government proclivity for needless duplication and ensuing lack of desire to be efficient with taxpayer dollars.

I moved here from Ottawa where there were three adjoining cities of  Ottawa, Nepean and Gloucester. They were eventually reprimanded by the Ontario government for wasting taxpayer money on their duplication of services, and ordered to amalgamate (they did the same thing with a multiplicity of school boards there).

You likely know what happened, they didn’t make one city out of the three, they added a fourth layer of government.

Cities like Victoria (13 municipalities, 13 mayors and tons of councilors) didn’t amalgamate — they had added a fourth layer too, the Capital Regional District. Ditto for Metro Vancouver with a total of 12 city and five ‘district’ governments. That’s 17 mayors and their five or six councillors  for each mayor, on the taxpayer tab.

Parksville and Qualicum are separated by parts of the RDN, however, and so that in order to amalgamate them the RDN would also be involved.

That would make it a joining of three different areas, so if the RDN wanted to keep its hand in Area G, or whatever other area, it would constitute the triumvirate of Parksville, Qualicum Beach, and some parts of the current RDN (and therefore likely the RDN itself), and then you can add the ‘umbrella  government’ that seems to be the norm for amalgamations (“over-government with oversight”) and what  a cumbersome  and expensive proposition that would be.

At present we have different towns, and that’s fine. What we need are better communications and working together on common infrastructure problems like roadways/bridges that link our communities together, water services, etc.

For example, why is it that during hot and dry weather over long periods of time (with only ‘time of day’ restrictions) Qualicum Beach residents can water every day in the summer, Parksville residents can water every second day, and Epcor restricts its customers to twice a week. Don’t we all share the same watershed?

My vote? No to amalgamation, yes to better communications and sharing of infrastructure costs and municipal plans that affect area communities.

Norm Harder

French Creek

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