JBNA: Citizens’ Assembly

JBNA New logo April 2015.jpg

James Bay Neighbourhood Association

Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association

Shellie Gudgeon and Colin Nielsen introduced the topic of Citizens’ Assembly to the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) on April 10, 2019. In October 2018 electors in Victoria and Saanich expressed support for a referendum “to spend up to $250,000 for establishing a Citizens’ Assembly to explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria.” A Citizens’ Assembly is a 'representative body of citizens tasked by government to study, deliberate, and develop recommendations on a specific issue.” The process of facilitated dialogue by a representative group of citizens, considering all points of view, will hopefully produce a solution agreeing to a common direction. Amalgamation of the two largest municipalities (total population 250,000) in the CRD could have a significant impact on local governance.

A current proposal would see the Assembly drawn by lottery from a random distribution to up to 20,000 households. A facilitator will select the final participants (less than 50) based on a range of demographics, to review the common understanding of the issues related to amalgamation. Participants would be involved in sessions on alternative Saturdays (up to 50 hours in total) to determine if amalgamation would present a positive outcome for Victoria and for Saanich. Gudgeon believes the sessions should not be open to the public as private meetings within a safe space encourage more open dialogue. Sessions should be clearly documented with documentation available to the public. A separate technical team will provide data regarding resources, finances etc. to participants.

After deliberation, the drafting of recommendations on whether or not to amalgamate will be written by citizen assembly members, and will include dissenting views. The process used in the Duncan/North Cowichan Citizens’ Assembly was cited as a good process. Gudgeon encouraged everyone to consider participation in this exciting opportunity.

Imagine Studio Café:

Imagine Studio Café provides an employment opportunity within our community for young staff to work in a safe environment and gain valuable experience, skills and confidence. Staff members provided background: how they came to be employed at Imagine Café, challenges they have overcome (addictions & mental health), the positivity that owner Dorothy Morrison has created with her hiring practices, and the opportunities provided to young employees with diverse backgrounds.

The staff works as a team in a supportive environment, respected and accepted regardless of who they are or what their past might be. Their pride in the café is clearly conveyed to customers. These young people come from a variety of sources; some come on their own, some are referred by outside agencies, school councillors, community partners, probation officers, police, and, for most part, word of mouth. University of Victoria social work student Ronica Endean provides advice and assistance in guiding the “Imagine U” program.

Those attending the JBNA meeting expressed their appreciation for Dorothy’s initiative in putting this program in place.

Councillor Laurel Collins

Councillor Laurel Collins discussed council initiatives for April. A second intake of applications for Great Neighbourhood Grants will occur in the fall for spring 2020.

As a result of adjustments to the guidelines for Sunday parking, monies to fund bus passes for youth will accumulate more slowly. Parkades remain free on Sundays.

Councillors Isitt and Collins are creating a seniors’ task force to help develop a seniors’ strategy. Details are yet to be finalized but there will be an open invitation to seniors who wish to participate. The definition of what age determines when a person is considered a senior for this project has not yet been determined.

Community Voices:

Community Voices: The care and cooperation of the road crews (City & CRD Wastewater) during the sewer line work on Dallas at Menzies and the city’s storm drain work on Menzies were acknowledged with appreciation by local residents.

Road Closures

Road Closures will continue on Dallas Road from Ogden Point to Douglas Street from May to June. Cruise Ship traffic will be redirected past the Inner Harbour. Access egress along Dallas Road to Erie and Superior Streets will be maintained.

Retiring JBNA Board Member Laura Neil acknowledged the dedicated volunteers who make up the Board and expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve for the past six years.

Join us next month at 7:00 May 10, 2019 at 234 Menzies Street (New Horizons) to hear the latest about bicycle infrastructure in the City.

Ask the Vet: Dream Catcher

Poem: This Creature Lad