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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Local government reorganization: a case study in local government change in Nanaimo, B.C. Strongitharm, B. Deane

Abstract

This thesis is an examination of the boundary restructure efforts of Nanaimo, B.C. It examines and compares both the background which precipitated the restructure referendum and the actions and attitudes by individuals, groups, and Government that prefaced the November 2, 1974 vote. It also explores the literature and legislation that is germane to the analysis and relates it to the above. Finally, some consideration is given to speculating probable effects of the amalgamation decision. While there are many reasons which explain the need for a re-alignment of local Government boundaries, the principal one is that the existing political structure impedes the most effective delivery of services to the public. The author's investigations revealed that there were important conflicts in the pattern of local Government in Nanaimo that could be mitigated with amalgamation. Irrespective of the stated benefits, a significant segment of the population opposed amalagamation. Opposition sentiment was based on a variety of arguments, with the effects on taxes apparently the most vocal issue. Opposition sentiment was obviously strong as the outcome of the referendum showed that only 52% were in favour of amalgamation. This despite the fact that a thorough examination of the implications of restructure by a special restructure committee concluded that there would be little initial impact on the tax burden. In general, the thesis is an assessment of an event, and as such, no specific or pre-conceived hypothesis was stated. Three recommendations of particular note, concluded specifically from the case study are: (i) the need for an immediate change in property taxation laws affecting non-municipal areas in British Columbia to bring the taxes in line with the actual cost of services provided by the province to non-municipal areas. (ii) the Provincial Government, in the Nanaimo situation, should be prepared to augment their existing financial commitment to help defray unanticipated costs if they (costs) become excessively burdensome. In future restructure proposals, however the Province should consider undertaking a more comprehensive review of cost figures, projected by local restructure committees to ensure their accuracy. (iii) in any future restructure proposals, the Provincial Government should ensure that the local people responsible for administering the restructure program have engaged in an active and effective campaign of making the local citizens aware of the full ramifications of amalgamation, (both the positive and negative aspects), and that a concerted effort is made to encourage the participation of all residents.

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