Team appointed to lead Victoria-Saanich Citizens’ Assembly on Municipal Amalgamation
November 3, 2023
The municipalities of Victoria and Saanich announced this week the appointment of MASS LBP, a Canadian democracy organization, to lead their Citizens’ Assembly on Municipal Amalgamation.
The proposal for a Citizens’ Assembly was approved during a 2018 referendum, but planning efforts were paused during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Citizens’ Assembly will be composed of 48 local volunteers from Victoria and Saanich who will be selected by civic lottery next year. The Assembly is tasked with exploring the costs, benefits and disadvantages of a potential amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria, and ultimately recommending whether the two municipalities should amalgamate. If the Assembly recommends amalgamation, then a subsequent referendum will take place allowing voters the final say. The Assembly is expected to conclude its deliberations and issue its recommendation no later than summer 2025.
MASS was selected to run the Assembly following a competitive tender which concluded in August. The organization will operate the Assembly at arms-length from both municipalities to safeguard the independence of the process.
“Twenty years ago, British Columbia hosted the first modern Citizens’ Assembly. Since then, this made-in-BC model has quietly inspired more than 600 similar assemblies across Canada and Europe,” said MASS Principal Peter MacLeod.
“We want to build on this legacy and we take very seriously our responsibility to ensure the Victoria-Saanich Assembly meets a high standard for transparency and inclusion. We understand that amalgamation is a critical issue for local residents. We think the Assembly will provide a valuable perspective while also demonstrating the constructive role people can play in shaping their communities and democracy.”
Since its founding in 2007, MASS has completed more than fifty Citizens’ Assemblies and Reference Panels and is internationally recognized for its innovative efforts to popularize deliberative processes.
The organization has staff in Victoria, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal and has led similar processes for governments and public sector organizations across Canada including with the Province of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver, as well as the municipalities of Duncan and North Cowichan.
A project website that provides details about the Victoria-Saanich Citizens’ Assembly, the recruitment process for members, opportunities for public participation and key dates will be launched in early December.
Richard Johnson, MASS LBP