Tag Archives: amalgamation

North Van reunification study on 2018 district ballot

From the North Shore News today, passed by District of North Van Council on July 9th:

More than electing a new council this fall, District of North Vancouver voters are being asked to formally declare whether their new government should support a study into North Vancouver amalgamation.

District council voted unanimously Monday night on a non-binding ballot question intended to test whether there is true mandate for reunification. The question that will appear on the Oct. 20 election ballot reads:

“Do you support the establishment and funding, not to exceed $100,000, of an advisory body comprised jointly of residents of the City of North Vancouver and residents of the District of North Vancouver to investigate the costs, benefits and potential implications of reunifying the two municipalities?”

Council’s vote follows the release of survey results last month that found overwhelming support from residents in both North Vancouvers on whether the two “should jointly investigate the true costs and benefits of amalgamation” – 91 per cent support by current district residents and 82 per cent support by city residents.

“We have to get it into the hands of the people. We cannot leave it in the hands of politicians that are making decisions in a room without windows. This is an opportunity to open a window,” said Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn.

But, while the district may be ready to pop the question, the city’s council will still have to be talked into courtship, Coun. Robin Hicks cautioned.

“If the city doesn’t open their books, spending any amount of money is an entire waste of time,” he said. “In order to go ahead, both municipalities should be totally committed to it because the negotiations and the … integration of operations, policies and financial arrangements are very complex.”

With the exception of Coun. Don Bell, the current city council has shown no interest in the latest overtures from the district towards reunification. City Mayor Darrell Mussatto said the district was being unneighbourly by conducting the survey and forging ahead without first meeting with city council directly.

District Coun. Roger Bassam, however, pointed out it will be up to the next city council sworn in after the election to determine how much the city bureaucracy helps or hinders the work of the citizen advisory body.

“I remain very hopeful the political leadership in the city will sincerely engage in this process and support the residents of the city and district as they study the subject. I recognize that even if they do not support amalgamation themselves, hopefully they will at least respect the will of the city residents and support this examination thoroughly,” he said.

The city was carved out of the district in 1907 when a group of property speculators petitioned the province for a new municipality that would be cheaper to service than the sprawling district, which, at the time, went from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove.

The vote passed 5-0. Coun. Lisa Muri and Mayor Richard Walton were absent from the meeting.

Source: North Van reunification study on 2018 district ballot

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EDITORIAL: A house divided

There has been no indication recently that the City has been willing to work with the District on any shared concerns – traffic, development, recreation – so maybe it’s time?

From the North Shore News today:

We welcome the news this week that the District of North Vancouver is making a new attempt at amalgamating with the City of North Vancouver. There is never a bad time to re-examine why there are two North Vancouvers to begin with and whether there should be reunification.

We’d say the bizarre, zigzagging border that divides our community seems arbitrary, but it isn’t. In 1907, it was drawn around the land holdings of property speculators who, conveniently, were also on the council of the day. They voted themselves a new municipality that would be cheaper to develop and service than the sprawling district.

City council members have so far been leery or outright closed-minded when it comes to talk of amalgamation. The perception has always been that the city has everything to lose and nothing to gain. A lot has changed and some myths have lingered too long. Today, district homeowners pay a lower tax rate than city ones.

But this isn’t about money, or at least it shouldn’t be. This is about an opportunity to correct a mistake of history and return to common sense in our governance, something we’ve been denied for 111 years. Whether it’s bylaws, planning, transportation or dog licences, we challenge anyone to explain why having two municipalities making decisions about the same chunk of land serves the residents better.

When the time comes, we insist the city approach this amalgamation study in earnest and with an open mind. North Vancouverites already share rec centres, traffic woes and a hospital. The demarcation doesn’t separate two municipalities from each other; it separates all of us from reason.

Source: EDITORIAL: A house divided

EDITORIAL: 125 birthday bumps

We have posted previous articles about the “A” word topic, and it has been the subject of previous North Shore News editorials(https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/come-together-re-amalgamation-ns-news/).    What do we know?  We know that the subject has come up at Council previously – in 1928 and 1981 referendum bylaws were prepared.   We know that there was much discussion in 2014 when the notion of “restructuring” came up at Council – and it was soundly rejected by the Mayor and Councillor Keating.  We know that with the current Council majority it’s unlikely that a motion for another ‘look’ would be approved.   Time for us to demand more of our City Council.

from the North Shore News today:

It’s been 125 years, give or take a few days, since North Shore residents had a local government they could vote for, pay taxes to, receive services from, and gripe about.

On Aug. 10, 1891, the District of North Vancouver was incorporated by the province, spanning the entire North Shore. We wish the district the happiest of birthdays.

Of course, the original party was cut relatively short in 1907 when a group of landowners persuaded the province to give them a city of their own centred along Lonsdale Avenue.

We live with the consequences of that baffling decision today.

When you drive from the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing bridgehead to Capilano Road, you travel between the District and City of North Vancouver five times. Roughly 45 per cent of the highway is in the city, but only district council is being asked to step up and fix the awful problems of congestion with expensive new interchanges and bridges.

Some naively argue that amalgamation would bring about fabulous cost reductions. It wouldn’t. If history serves as any indicator, costs for taxpayers will go up as a result.

But we aren’t just taxpayers. We’re citizens and citizens demand more than low tax bills. We demand good government. This bizarre, snaking border divides our common interests as much as it divides our community.

We’d argue the best birthday gift we could give ourselves is a sober, fresh look at amalgamation.

At the tender age of 125, it’s high time  North Vancouver started taking better care of itself.

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-125-birthday-bumps-1.2322356#sthash.lqsySjNk.dpuf

 

Come together (re amalgamation NS News)

Comment from Voices:  This editorial in the North Shore News and the article about the Fraser Institute Study quote Mayor Mussatto’s consistent refrain about successful shared services between the City and the District.  However, we know that the City has refused to participate in research regarding cost-savings.

 We also know that the City will not even communicate with the District in such things as co-ordinating development plans. We spoke before CNV Council in 2012 about shared services, and the City’s refusal to participate in a study:https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/delegation-to-council-september-17-2012/

At that time savings of approximately $3.6 M were suggested in the fire department alone. Why did the City refuse to participate?

EDITORIAL: Come together.

If you think amalgamating local governments will save money, think again, a Fraser Institute study concludes.

The study’s applicability for the city and district of North Vancouver, however, is widely open for debate. The Ontario-based review involved unwilling municipalities with little in common being forced together with almost no time to study how it could be done effectively.

The common assumption here is that the city would have the most to lose if its taxpayers suddenly had to take on the cost of servicing the sprawling district. That’s an assumption we’d like to see challenged with a fresh look into the matter.

But the questions we need to be asking shouldn’t just include dollars and cents. There are two separate rats’ nests of bylaws, planning policies, accounting methods, public processes and administrative hoops to jump through that could be harmonized for the benefit of residents, businesses, non-profits, senior levels of government and First Nations — basically everyone.

Are the city and district really such radically different places? It’s true, the city’s residents skew younger, live in smaller homes and have a lower income, but that’s true of all downtowns and the city effectively is North Vancouver’s downtown.

The 1907-split never should have happened to begin with. Think of the modern day equivalent of the Lonsdale corridor and waterfront industries hiving themselves off to save a few bucks.

The reward for amalgamating the two North Vancouvers might not be magically lower tax bills but rather a restoration of our collective sanity.

And you can’t put a price on sanity.

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Article in the News about the Fraser Institute Study: http://www.nsnews.com/news/amalgamation-costs-more-fraser-institute-1.1959874

Policing: Waking Up To The Cost Of Being An ‘Official Community’

Former Councillor Guy Heywood (CNV) spoke at the January 12th Council meeting during the public input period.  The script is below.   This link Policing: Waking Up To The Cost Of Being An ‘Official Community’  has further detail as well as the attachments mentioned.  Quoting in part:

It Is Hard Not To Be Involved

I miss being part of Council. I find it difficult to stop thinking about the issues that challenge the City. While at times it has been hard not to take it personally, I believe that many of fundamental causes of the City’s dysfunction in government and its politics are related to the structure of our local governments and their historical origin. 

 

Two Minute Presentation:

I am here to talk about a serious complaint made by the District in a letter to the City last fall that does not appear to be resolved.

They relate to one of the reasons the City Manager gave in his report last June for why the Cityshould not to collaborate with the District in a Restructure Study:

“…the District owes the City … over $1.2 million… increasing by…  $400,000 every year”The allegation was repeated at later meetings and in the media.

In September, the Mayor of the District wrote a letter to say that these statements were:

“…not correct…in fact misleading and damaging to the District’s reputation.”

He attached an agreement signed by Mr. Tollstam proving he should have known that it was a false statement when he made it.

There were also RCMP reports supporting a District view that, rather than owing the City, they are paying $2 million per year more than their fair share.

They asked for a public statement of retraction but all I could find was Mr. Tollstam quoted in the North Shore News September 24th saying that:

“the numbers seem to indicate both parties are paying their fair share.” 

This is yet another misleading statement, since the numbers provided by the RCMP support the District’s view that it is subsidizing the City.

I believe there are literally millions of dollars wasted on duplicate local government bureaucracy and facilities in North Vancouver.  The lack of coordination and even conflict has negative consequences for social services, culture, recreation and the management of public safety.

But I had not been aware of the risk to City taxpayers in particular of a $2 million dollar shift in policing costs. That is $2 million dollars per year more incentive for City taxpayers to find out just how much we are all paying across North Vancouver to maintain two local governments in one community.

I have put this correspondence and other information I have collected on my blog –guyheywood.ca – as reference for citizens who have told me they wish to get on with their own study of how local government in North Vancouver can be made better.

I wish them success but warn them to be wary of the bullying and misleading tactics employed by those with a vested interest in the status quo.

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