Rob Wickson, David Shebib, Coun. Fred Haynes and Mayor Richard Atwell, here seen just moments before the final debate Tuesday, are vying to lead Saanich as mayor, when residents go to the polls Saturday. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Fringe candidate for Saanich mayor roils last election forum

Shebib accuses municipalities of hiding their poor

The last minute appearance of a fringe candidate and some sharp but familiar exchanges marked the final forum featuring the candidates running for mayor in Saanich.

David Shebib — one of four declared candidates for mayor in Saanich — made his first appearance of the campaign during the last all-candidates forum held in Saanich Tuesday afternoon at the Church of Nazarene in front of an estimated crowd of 500 people.

Occasionally hostile towards the crowd and frequently contemptuous towards the format and the other three candidates — Mayor Richard Atwell, Coun. Fred Haynes and Rob Wickson — Shebib shocked the audience with comments that ranged from the conspiratorial to the offensive.

When the discussion turned to the question of homelessness, Shebib suggested the creation of a dedicated camp for homeless individuals on a piece of property owned by the City of Victoria, which he repeatedly called a “tent city.”

“Stop hiding your poor,” he said.

RELATED: Saanich mayoral candidates clash over leadership

The comment drew audible ‘boos’ from the audience. “Yeah, you don’t like that,” he responded. “But that is what you are doing.”

After some back and forth with Wickson, Shebib wondered why local churches won’t open their doors to the homeless.

“They will trash it,” shouted one audience member.

“Just like you trashed Victoria?” he responded, drawing more gasps. “You trashed this city, come on,” he continued. “The place is a dump. It’s a mechanical dump. Have a look at your traffic problems. Have a look at your problems.”

READ MORE: ‘They had nowhere else to go,’ mayoral candidate hosting tent city campers

RELATED: Saanich municipality and police are investing options to disband homeless camp

Another audience member then reminded Shebib about the state of the rural property, where he had invited a group of homeless individuals to stay earlier this month. “I’ll look at my junkyard. Do you want to look at your junkyard?” By that stage, audience members were telling Shebib to sit down.

But Shebib also earned a measure of sympathy from the crowd, when Atwell said Saanich resident get to choose their mayor from the “three of us up here.” Audience members reminded Atwell that four names appear on the ballot.

“I do apologize,” said Atwell. “This is the first debate that David attended.”

RELATED: Saanich mayoral candidates clash during debate

As for issues, Haynes questioned why Atwell surprised council by bringing forward his idea of turning the former Emily Carr library into supportive housing, which Haynes considers inappropriate use, while Atwell questioned Haynes’ support for the sewage treatment plant, accusing Haynes of failing to fight for Saanich residents. Atwell, meanwhile, questioned Wickson’s apparent obstructionism on the McKenzie Interchange Project, while Haynes questioned Wickson’s recommendation to narrow Tillicum Road, a busy commuter road, to improve cycle safety.

During their final statements, the candidates hit on familiar themes. Atwell, who had stressed his experience earlier, said the future of Saanich hinges on the election of new councillors willing to break with the past in making an implicit pitch for United for Saanich.

Haynes, who defended council’s effectiveness, said Saanich is best served through nine independent voices in promising to preserve Saanich’s rural-urban mix and current opportunities into the future.

Wickson advertised himself as a moderator, who would rise above the bickering that had defined council in attacking both Haynes and Atwell.

Shebib, meanwhile, questioned the entire legitimacy of the election and regional governance as it exists.

“There is nothing dumber than a voter,” he said. “You only get to act once every four years, and then you are stuck.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Municipal election

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hundreds of wax figures find new life in Saanich man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Oak Bay wins Vancouver Island basketball championship

Third-place NDSS will get to challenge second place Claremont for a berth in provincials

Peninsula Eagles will host Midget T2 provincial championships

Provincial championships will take place at Panorama Recreation March 15 to 19

UPDATED: Hit and run results in damaged fire hydrant, flooding on Richmond Road

Registered owner issued $360 ticket, responsible for repair costs

Saanich’s senior race car driver not slowing down

Bill Okell kicks off 2020 season at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California on Feb. 21

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay Victoria man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Most Read