A third mayoral candidate has come forward in Saanich.
Rob Wickson, the longtime president of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association, will challenge Coun. Fred Haynes and incumbent Mayor Richard Atwell for the chair role of Saanich council in the Oct. 20 general election.
Wickson is no stranger to council. He attends council sessions regularly and ran, unsuccessfully, three times so far in 2008, 2011 and in the byelection of 2017.
“I asked a lot of people this year what they think in terms of leadership in Saanich, and the majority of people say they don’t like it and they’re not happy with it,” Wickson said. “We need people to work together to get the job done instead of playing politics.
“Saanich needs a mayor who is independent and confident. We don’t have that at the moment.”
Wickson hopes the late start to the campaign can quickly gain momentum.
For 34 years, Wickson has worked as a partner in Discovery Economic Consulting with business partner, Victoria Coun. Geoff Young. The company acts as an expert witness for cases that go before the B.C. Supreme Court, providing lawyers with economic advice .
“If someone’s hurt in a car crash, we’ll measure the difference if there career changes, and provide the methodology to make that decision,” Wickson said. “That means sitting down and putting together the policy required to do the research analysis.”
Wickson said council should be the same.
“You start with conversations you want to have, get some success, and then move on to more complex things such as the EDPA,” he said. “We’ve been promised it will be replaced. I would expect new council to address that, but not first item on the agenda.”
Wickson’s resume is long in Saanich involvement. He started the Gorge Canada Day Picnic that now draws 10,000 people on Canada Day.
He is a past president of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and the BC Chamber of Commerce, was president of GTCA from 2008 until 2018, was part of the Moving Saanich Forward active transportation committee from 2017 to 2018 and is a member of the Douglas/Uptown Corridor study advisory committee. He was also president of Bike to Work Week Victoria from 2005 to 2015, and is a director with the Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society.
“You need someone at the head of the chair that can work with a variety of people,” Wickson said. “That relationship with the CAO has to be built on a solid foundation without animosity, fear or suspicion.”
Wickson’s platform includes a plan to shortening land-use approval times in Saanich and to help lower housing costs and make Saanich the go-to municipality for new businesses. He also believes in keeping the tax burden low for homeowners through a comprehensive business plan to increase municipal revenues without relying on increasing property taxes.
“Saanich is the largest municipality on Vancouver Island and it’s our time to be seen as a leader – for our ideas, for our solutions, and for our opportunities,” Wickson said. “As mayor I promise to bring the collaboration and leadership to council that will make sure we are charting a brighter future for everyone in the community.”