Art Pollard of the Quadra Cedar Hill neighbourhood is seeking council. Pollard ran in the 2017 byelection. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Saanich needs social planner, says council candidate Art Pollard

Pollard is anti-slate, unimpressed by Saanich mayor

Saanich council candidateArt Pollard would like to see a social planner who could take a focused approach with the people of Saanich’s tent city.

Pollard, who ran in the 2017 byelection, also has some choice words for Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell and his slate, United for Saanich.

See: Longtime volunteer enters Saanich byelection

“I’m very anti-slate, I don’t think you’ll find any of us candidates are in favour of them,” Pollard said. “The mayor doesn’t work well with people. If you look at council voting history, occasionally (Coun. Karen) Harper supported him but other than that, not much [support there].”

Pollard enters the 2018 election as an independent who is open to working with anyone, he said, though he is clearly not impressed with Atwell forming United for Saanich.

See also: Seventeen seek Saanich council, four seek mayoral seat

“It’s a classic example that you have to work with people,” Pollard said, calling the United for Saanich electoral organization hypocritical following Atwell’s 2014 social media posts that criticized Frank Leonard, Nicola Wade and others. In that situation, the group posed in advertisements together but were not a formal electoral organization.

“All of a sudden this time a slate pops up, it’s disingenuous, it really is.”

Pollard is a retired B.C. Ferries employee who has volunteered on various committees within the district. He lives on Linwood Avenue where he got involved with his neighbours to lobby Saanich for new sidewalks. The process started more than 15 years ago and was completed in 2017.

“It can take a long time to get things done in Saanich,” Pollard said. “Ultimately, Linwood was designated as a safe school route to Cloverdale elementary school.”

Pollard graduated with a bachelor in political science from the University of Victoria in 1983 and spent six years as a director with the Quadra-Cedar Hill Community Association during the 1990s, and was recognized by former Chief of Police Derek Egan for 17 years co-ordinating his local Block Watch program. From 2003 to 2005 Pollard was on Saanich’s special events committee and was then part of the 2006 Saanich Centennial committee.

He also spent 10 years serving on a special fiscal committee that served the municipally owned and operated Cedar Hill Golf Course.

Pollard would like to see use of vacant real estate, particularly prime lots, such as the former Mayfair bowling lanes owned by Canadian mega-grocery chain Loblaws. While some have proposed the lot host social housing, Pollard heard wind of a rumour that it could be an ideal spot for a film industry studio.

“It has downtown access but also access to the highway and up-Island, a real revenue generator for the local economy,” Pollard said.

He would also like to see a social planner, much the same as mayoral candidate Rob Wickson has proposed. Municipalities should have someone who liaises directly with the different social services agencies, he said.

“What they should be doing is have someone go into tent city for one-on-one counselling. We need to define all the different issues there as some people are addicted, some people have mental health issues, some people are there by choice, it’s a lifestyle… you have to find support for these people, you have some desperate people there.”

If homelessness is issue No. 1 for Pollard, the housing crisis is No. 1a.

“Our younger people can’t find housing,” Pollard said. “I’ve been approached by 10 people over the past six months who can’t find places to live, they’re working, couch surfing, unemployment is historically low but what’s the living wage, $20 per hour, graduating 5,000 to 6,000 per year, can we find a job for them? That’s your next generation… we need good-paying jobs here in order for people to exist.”

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