No, the title is not meant to suggest that I’m turning libertarian! Recall, however, my recent …frustrations? (sic!) about the sale of BC’s Terasen Gas to Texas-based Kinder-Morgan, as well as my lugubrious commentary on the privatisation of public utilities in BC (and elsewhere). One of the gummier aspects of local politics that I find difficult to comprehend is that Victoria (where I live) is essentially a tiny dogpatch of geography, surrounded by other little dogpatches, each with its own mayor, its own elected councillors, its own fire department, its own police, and so on and so forth. Furthermore, precisely because this bow-wow patchwork is so dog-gone stupid, we’re actually governed by a non-elected fourth level of government known as the CRD — that stands for Capital Regional District — which makes all sorts of important decisions that affect the entire region, but which isn’t directly accountable to the voter.
I thought I was being really stupid and thick-headed in not grokking the logic behind this arrangement, but now I’m happy to report that I am in fact a genius …no, er, that there are other people equally (if not more so) annoyed by the status quo. In fact, they wish to change this arrangement once and for all. To whit, if you’re a voter in this region, please take a look at Less Gov dot com. Their mission:
…to give the taxpaying citizens of the region the opportunity to decide the issue of amalgamation without political or special interest group influences. [More...]
The site includes a petition voters can ‘sign’ virtually. They include the following tidbits on their front page:
1. We have a population base of approximately 340,000 people with 13 municipalities and 91 politicians.
2. Vancouver with a population base of approximately 600,000 people has 11 politicians, a mayor and 10 councilors.
3. The Capital Regional District has 900 employees and is an unelected fourth level of government.
4. Amalgamation would eliminate the need for a Capital Regional District.
5. The Patricia Bay Highway runs through or into 5 municipalities.
6. There are 13 fire departments (paid and volunteer) with major duplication of equipment.
7. Infrastructure grants are often unavailable now as they are based on municipal population size.
8. The region has multiple police forces plus the RCMP.
9. No cohesive economic and land use plans based on regional population and needs.
10. Lack of regional arts planning (Art Gallery &Royal Theatre as examples).
11. Recent increases in duplications of services throughout the region (i.e. CRD entering policing) [More...]
This is definitely of interest to all Victoria-area voters.