Karen Harper of the Camosun Community Association and local advocacy groups is seeking the vacant Saanich council by-election seat. Submitted

Karen Harper to run in Saanich council byelection

Budget focused Saanich resident Karen Harper eyes vacant council seat

Karen Harper has announced she will run for the vacant Saanich council seat in the upcoming municipal byelection.

Harper is the treasurer of the Camosun Community Association and has a long career in business and finance. The council seat became vacant following the death of Vic Derman in March.

That makes three Saanich residents who’ve stepped up to announce their candidacy although a date for the byelection has yet to be set. Saanich’s Nathalie Chambers and Rebecca Mersereau have already announced their intention to seek the vacant council seat.

“I want to start going out and knocking on doors, not just to go to council but to make sure I’ve got the fullest picture possible, and to do that I need to announce now,” Harper said.

Harper brings a finance heavy focus as the former senior vice-president of the B.C. Pension Corporation, and as a member of a federal committee that helped the CRA create efficiencies in their business processes and pension plans, and reporting. She’s also a director with the local Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Victoria and Amalgamation Yes.

“It’s not that Grumpy Taxpayer$ don’t believe in taxation,” Harper said. “It’s that we believe in value for money. Taxes rise at a merry rate compared to our income.”

If elected, Harper will look at making taxes affordable. Creating organizational cost and operating efficiencies has been part of every job she’s worked in, she said.

Harper also wants to better inform the public of the municipality’s progress. Since the 2014 elected council was sworn in Harper’s been a dedicated attendee at most Saanich council meetings, public hearings, and in particular, the budget meetings.

A quick fix she’d like to see is making the Saanich council agenda available a week before the meeting. Agendas are currently posted on the Friday afternoon before the Monday night meeting.

“In the area of council meetings, if you want council to be as effective as possible and have the public engaged as much as possible… it’s not the most effective approach,” Harper said. “Most boards have their material out at least a week in advance.”

Harper has made this suggestion before.

“If you were a councillor, how can you really do your job properly when these agendas are hundreds of pages long? You need to have it sooner and that’s the norm in most places, I would argue.”

reporter@saanichnews.com