Saanich candidate calls for scrapping controversial EDPA bylaw

Michael Geoghegan is the fifth candidate to throw his hat in the ring for the Sept. 23 byelection for Saanich council.

Michael Geoghegan is the fifth candidate to throw his hat in the ring for the Sept. 23 byelection for Saanich council. (Photo submitted)

The newest candidate vying for a spot on Saanich council wants the district to do away with its controversial Environmental Development Permit area, calling it “an exercise in bureaucratic redundancy.”

Michael Geoghegan is the fifth candidate to throw his hat in the ring for the Sept. 23 byelection to fill the vacancy created by the death of Coun. Vic Derman in March.

Geoghegan, a 51-year-old government relations consultant, said the EDPA duplicates many existing environmental regulations covered by the provincial and federal governments.

“Saanich took it upon itself to act as if none of these other things existed. To me it seems like it’s been a huge headache at tremendous expense, and a bit of a make-work project for some biologist consultants. Let’s get rid of it, we’ve got more than enough adequate protection.”

He sees housing, taxes and accountability as the three main issues facing Saanich residents, and addressing those issues is what prompted him to seek public office.

Geoghegan said more inventory is the solution to the current housing crisis, and Saanich is seeing too many housing projects being delayed, denied or downsized, resulting in a reduction in the number of units available for sale or rent.

“Councillors have been so fixated on not upsetting the immediate people in the area because there’s going to be a building there, it’s created this crisis where we have a 0.5 per cent vacancy rate.”

He’s calling for a shift in focus from single-family homes towards more higher-density residential construction, along with commercial and industrial development, as ways to grow the district’s tax base.

“What you’re able to do is give your existing taxpayers a break,” said Geoghegan, pointing to a 58 per cent increase in Saanich property taxes between 2006 and 2016. “If we can grow the tax base then we don’t have to keep going back to the taxpayers to pick their pocket.”

He also wants to see a move to greater accountability, and will take steps to ensure spyware will not be placed on the computers of elected officials, as was discovered shortly after the 2014 municipal elections. “Why was new mayor’s computer loaded with spyware? Who made that decision?” he asked, calling for more transparency.

“It’s time for a little sunlight to come in on what appears to be a rather shady situation,” said Geoghegan. “This council dragged its feet on webcasting its council hearings. Let there be greater transparency.”

Geoghegan joins Shawn Newby, Natalie Chambers, Rebecca Mersereau and Karen Harper as candidates who have declared for the Sept. 23 byelection.