FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (April 16, 2016)
Esquimalt Council cannot dismiss 67% YES votes for amalgamation!
Town Hall draws criticism for attempts to ignore municipal ballot results.
In a flagrant affront to residents, Esquimalt Council has dismissed the 67% YES votes for amalgamation in the last municipal election.
Councillor Tim Morrison, speaking at Esquimalt's Town Hall last week said that Council has decided against amalgamation as there were only “a few people who wanted amalgamation”.
“This is flagrant manipulation of election results”, Amalgamation Yes President Tony Heemskerk said. “The residents of Esquimalt have voted loud and clear that they favour amalgamation, and it's not the purview of Council to dismiss that. Can there be a greater reason for cynicism directed at local government officials than this attempt to quash the democratic will of Esquimalt voters?”
With only 5 days’ notice, the April 5th Town Hall meeting angered many Esquimalt residents for being hastily called by the mayor, and for the municipality's website that contained only anti-amalgamation information and correspondence.
Due to the short notice, many residents were unable to attend the meeting. Of the few people who attended, a dozen spoke against amalgamation or a study of governance. This is in sharp contrast to the 2,905 who voted YES (67%) for amalgamation at the ballot box.
Only Esquimalt residents were permitted to speak at the Town Hall, but an exception was made for the (non-resident and anti-amalgamation) former View Royal mayor who refused to permit an amalgamation ballot question in View Royal.
Also barred from speaking were local business owners who don't reside in the municipality. When the Esquimalt residents concluded speaking, they were encouraged to speak again as Council continued to bar others.
"This illustrates why a BC Auditor General for Local Government is so critically needed to review municipal abuse of public processes. And worse, we also heard accounts of residents being intimidated by an anti-amalgamation Facebook group run by an Esquimalt Councillor” said Heemskerk.
In the run up to the last municipal election, Esquimalt candidates Barb Desjardins, Beth Burton Krahn and Susan Low issued an Open Letter to the Capital Region in which they pledged: “We will recognize and not dismiss the votes cast on November 15 on amalgamation”.
“This is troubling repudiation of their pledge, and of the Election BC referendum results from November 2014 where the majority of Esquimalt voters (67%) were clear they supported a reduction of the number of municipalities through amalgamation.
“Esquimalt voters seem to have a wider regional perspective and it is they who should lead their council, not the other way around.
“It should give cause to voters in the community to demand recall legislation for local government officials who ignore election results”, said Heemskerk.
Questions posed by Esquimalt in November 2014 election:
1. Are you in favour of the Township of Esquimalt exploring options with other municipalities to achieve greater efficiencies by further sharing some services with other municipalities? "YES" or "NO"
- Results: 3,731 YES (87%), 578 No
- Results: 2,905 YES (67%), 1,404 No