The hot-button issue of municipal amalgamation raised its head at a State of the City State of the Town address Tuesday.
Possible amalgamation of North Battleford and Battleford came up on the heels of Mayor Chris Odishaw's address.
He said the issue had come up more often prior to his term as mayor, but not so much during his term. Odishaw spoke of the “friendly competition” between Battleford and North Battleford, while also pointing to some of the shared partnerships the two communities have, including the contributions to the CUPlex, the river valley and other areas.
“I do feel proud and the town of Battleford feels proud that we do pull our weight and we do contribute to what is the Battlefords,” said Odishaw, who is known to be opposed to amalgamation.
During the question and answer period that followed, Battlefords Chamber past-president Scott Campbell raised the issue with both Odishaw and North Battleford mayor Ian Hamilton.
Campbell said he thought it made more sense for the two communities to join together and compete as one against other communities, noting he disagreed with Odishaw on the issue but “Chris and I are good friends, we don't always agree.”
Campbell asked Hamilton whether he's seen pressure to amalgamate.
Hamilton said people had asked a number of times and there has been some suggestion made to investigate and respond knowingly to the reasons why and why not, and list the advantages and disadvantages.
But the idea hasn't generated any momentum, he said, adding “it takes two to tango.”
Odishaw said amalgamation has been looked at before by the Town, but he noted a big stumbling block was the separate water and sewer utilities for the two communities, among others.
“I don't see how you could join those two departments,” said Odishaw, who said his council has never been able to identify cost-savings from an amalgamation.
Current Battlefords Chamber of Commerce president Pat Smith called it an “evolution” in the mind set of the two communities, noting there were “tremendous advantages” in terms of marketing the community.
“Don't wait until you have to amalgamate. Look at it before you have to,” he said.