Mayor-elect Fred Haynes said he would like to explore the idea of attracting a film studio to Saanich, while calling on the new council help create a new park out of private surplus land.
“Certainly, I’m very interested in economic development,” he said. “I want to create a mayor’s working force to look into that and bring forward ideas on the idea of a film studio, a new ice hockey area [and] improvements to our field recreation spaces, so that we can forward and capture those federal and provincial grants that are available.”
He had made those comments Saturday when asked about what the public can expect in the next four years.
“The first [priority] will be to meet with the council and see what their interests are, and how meld those together as a collective unit,” he said.
He will also use the occasion to outline his ideas that include among others the creation of a public park nears Kings Road. B.C. Hydro wants to sell surplus land located between Kings Road and Haultain Street, and a number of groups have called on Saanich to purchase the land to create a permanent park in that location — an agenda Haynes appears to favour.
“Council needs to get its head around that,” he said. “I believe it’s a strong commitment to the future of Saanich, to have the opportunity for densification, balanced with green space in an appropriate way for our children’s children, so that 50 years from now, they can look back and be proud of this council,” he said.
Haynes will ask council’s feedback on the creation of a mayor’s standing committee on housing and the environment, as well as a working group to look at the municipal budget.
He also promises to personally work on improving the supply of daycare spaces for young, working families.
The council that Haynes will chair will include four familiar faces — incumbents Judy Brownoff, Susan Brice, Karen Harper, and Colin Plant — as well as four new ones — Rebecca Mersereau, Ned Taylor, Nathalie Chambers, and Zac de Vries.
Haynes said he is looking forward to working them.
“I’m delighted that they all got on,” he said. “What a great council it turned out to be.”
Other members of council — both incumbent and joining — have also already voiced their priorities.
Zac de Vries, who will be the second-youngest member of council at 23 after 19-year-old Ned Taylor, said he would like launch a youth council to foster youth engagement. He would also like to see Saanich work on identifying land for the modular housing the province has offered us.
He would also like to see Saanich tackle congestion and road safety issues, while getting food production started on Panama Flats.
“Saanich voters overwhelmingly endorsed progressive values and provided a powerful mandate to build a better Saanich that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable,” he said.
Another issue that will shape this new council is the citizens’ assembly that will study the pros and cons of amalgamation.
Coun. Judy Brownoff, who voted against the question being on the last municipal ballot, said earlier that she would accept the outcome.
“With respect to the ballot question clearly our residents are interested in the facts,” she said. “So let’s get them the facts and get the study done. Then we will have the discussion on next steps.”
Haynes and the rest of the new council will start tackling these and other issues on their first public meeting scheduled for Nov. 5, with budget consultations starting soon thereafter.