Why I am Voting No - June 13, 2018 Letter published on multiple medias
Dear City of Duncan My thoughts for voting on amalgamation quickly approaches are this – Duncan, you have a decision to make. As the ‘Small City, Big Heart’, your decision to amalgamate or not depends entirely on what you decide when you cast your vote at the polls.
Up until two years ago I lived in Duncan, worked in Duncan and sat at the council table for the city. I moved exactly 1 minute away from my old house and found myself living in North Cowichan but with a Duncan address and a water bill payable to the city. I effectively became a dual citizen of two very different places. Sure we are “one community” AND we are also very distinct and extremely proud of what makes us different.
Duncan is a city and in fact, the smallest City in Canada. North Cowichan is a very large municipality made up of rural, agricultural, industrial and small village communities. We have different dreams of who we are and what we want to become and we do well at working together looking at issues and ideas from these different perspectives. This pulls us together and gives us strength. Diversity is key to the health and well being of decision-making. Two governments, two perspectives, are much better than one.
Choice is not something we should give up. Retain your identity Duncan, you are beautiful, you have a team of staff at public works and city hall that love this place and are proud to work for you and with you. You have the ability to flourish, prosper, provide unique perspectives at local decision making tables that will affect and impact your children and grandchildren. Small City Big Heart.
There will come a time when we will have to reassess our boundaries as a region, but this is not that time, and a yes vote would actually have a negative impact on what is possible and most effective for our future. So Duncanites, this is really your vote, and for my fellow dual citizens who identify with being from Duncan, you can help protect what you love and the Duncan side of your identity at the ballot box too by joining me and many others in voting NO. Let your heart guide you through this one, Small City, Big Decision.
Michelle Staples City of Duncan Council Member
Additional Thoughts The vote failed in Duncan 835 against and 395 in favour. If you look at the amalgamation results you will see pockets of people who voted yes have a Duncan address, just like I do and it is my theory that many (not all), just like me and my family, identify with being Duncanites and voting yes to them just made sense. From the perspective I now have as a dual citizen, the conversation about amalgamation is over, done and I sincerely hope the pro amalgamation teams let the peoples decision stand and not challenge it again. There is however another conversation that needs to take place some time in the future, that should have taken place in this last conversation and been an option for the Citizens Assembly and the voters to consider, and that is, boundary restructure. It only makes sense for Duncan to expand its boundaries to include the areas it services and with places in south Cowichan talking about becoming their own municipalities, this is a topic that will come up over the next four years at the CVRD board table and should the direction move towards adjusting regional boundaries, I will make sure this option is explored and considered in any conversation, study or process that takes place.