Meet Your Candidates: Council candidates outline priorities for Saanich

District of Saanich has 18 candidates running for eight spots on council

The District of Saanich has 18 candidates running for eight spots on council.

We asked each candidate how they would make the municipality a better place and to outline their top three key initiatives. Here are their responses.

Councillors:

Benjamin Allan

1. I believe housing is a fundamental human right; everyone deserves a safe place to call home. With our rental vacancy rate below one per cent, it has become nearly impossible to find suitable housing.

2. I believe in a balanced approach to development. Saanich is a beautiful municipality full of forests, parks and waterways that need protection.

3. I believe in better supports for the growing senior population. We need to work together to enable their continued involvement in the communities they helped create.

Whether it be between council members, council and staff, or most importantly, between council and the community, I will work tirelessly to re-establish open communication and collaboration within Saanich. To do so, I believe Saanich should adopt a strategy whereby each councillor acts as a neighbourhood liaison. As such, when you have an issue or a concern you can bring it to the attention of your neighbourhood liaison.

Trevor Barry

1. Engage millennials and increase voter turnout in the “under 40” / “young families” crowd.

2. Place public policy at the centre of the debate, with necessarily increased focus on demand-side economics.

3. Break the mould by presenting big, bold ideas that are outside-the-box and challenge the status quo.

A millennial resident with young kids (who luckily entered the market early), I offer perspective that’s lacking.

Saanich would be a better place if it was more available/accessible to all ages and stages in life. I’m not complaining, Saanich has been tremendously kind to me; but if we’re not careful, institutional inequities will allow this experience to slip away from the next generation.

In my combined “Trevor4Saanich” community resume, my perspective has become nuanced, inclusive and well-rounded: no generation can be left behind. I will fight for #OpenData to make city hall bureaucracy more efficient, transparent; and council decision-making streamlined, evidence-based, predictable (investors seek confidence).

I’ll support economic-efficiency, triple-bottom-line sustainability and improved public policy through better governance: term-limits, progressiveness in property taxes, and more neighbourhood engagement (e.g. CAs, small business, park usage, etc.) I will bring legislative prowess to council chambers to ensure these — and other #SmartSaanich initiatives — cannot be ignored.

Susan Brice

1. Sound Financial Management

• Diversified and strong economy

• Long-term financial planning

• Respect taxpayers ability to pay

2. Quality of Life

• Housing affordability

• Active living youth and seniors

• First class police and fire services

3. Our Environment

• Preserve Saanich natural beauty

• Respond to climate change

• Focus on waste reduction

I think Saanich will be even better as we implement plans for improved walking environment, safer cycling and continue to enhance public transit.

Judy Brownoff

1. Support attainable housing choices near services and transit.

2. Build an economic development plan that includes sports tourism.

3. Restore Elk Beaver Lake by reducing algae blooms and weeds.

I will continue to support Saanich being a place for all ages and abilities. By introducing more intergenerational and intercultural programs and events, residents will be connected.

Creating opportunities, for attainable housing choices and our maturing population to age in place.

Enhancing parks and trails for residents to enjoy a healthier lifestyle together with great pocket parks and outdoor cafes in our centres, villages and corridors.

Our residents will be walking more with over 200 kilometres of new sidewalks and transit now includes rapid transit.

Our economy is growing with our economic development strategy, which is strengthening our businesses, recognizing Saanich as an “authentic” destination for tourists together with the growth in our sports tourism.

With innovation and retrofits operating costs are lowered. Plus, our Environmental Conservation Plan has seen great success in protecting, enhancing and restoring our at risk environment.

Saanich — a place for all.

Kathleen Burton

If elected I will work to make Saanich an even better place under the following priority areas:

1. Common-Sense Environmental Policies

I will offer leadership on environmental protection in Saanich by working with homeowners and the community to develop policies that protect truly environmentally sensitive areas in a responsible, considerate way.

2. Homelessness Solutions

I will bring a voice of reason to council where homelessness is concerned. We must develop forward thinking solutions to this important and complex issue.

3. Addressing Traffic and Safety Issues

If elected I will work with council to establish a citizen-based committee to address the communities concerns in regards to neighbourhood traffic and safety.

Nathalie Chambers

The jars in my hands are a symbol of my commitment to preservation in this municipality. As a restoration ecologist and food grower at Madrona Farm, I can say the cost of preservation is always cheaper them restoration. Protecting the remaining green space, and farmland is foundational to our health/economy. However, I see a big flaw in governance, and it is the complaint driven system which is not an effective means of monitoring ecosystems in Saanich. It is the source of much municipal disharmony and represents an area where finances could be spent better. We need to hire more bylaw officers rather than get into costly legal battles that are draining the tax base. This is one way to become more financially efficient and acknowledge all the Saanich residents who are fabulous stewards and their contributions.

1. Affordability and housing

2. Safe neighbourhoods, roads and sidewalks

3. Cost effective governance

Zac de Vries

1. An Affordable Saanich: A diversity of affordable housing to match the diversity of ages, lifestyles, interests, and incomes in Saanich.

2. A Connected Saanich: Transportation leadership that champions multimodalism and better planning. Building complete communities reduces the number of necessary trips per day.

3. A Sustainable Saanich: Protect our environment and be a leader in the fight against climate change. Solutions that work today and for future generations to come.

I will make Saanich a better place by pursuing affordable housing, better transportation, sustainability, and protect our farms and parks like life depends on it, because in fact. It does. The fight for a better, more affordable Saanich is a fight that we have to win; it should consume our collective energies. I will bring council together, work with businesses, and empower residents in order to address these urgent challenges; these goals are not beyond our collective capacity.

Karen Harper

1. Keeping taxes in line with inflation

2. Addressing traffic and safety issues in a proactive manner

3. Improving housing affordability through smart densification

The current rate of tax increases, 40 per cent more than the cost of living over 10 years is unsustainable, and unaffordable. By transforming Saanich into an efficient, fiscally prudent organization we will create better service delivery to residents, with the capacity to support the services and projects important to us all in a financially sustainable manner. We need to keep Saanich affordable for homeowners, renters, and businesses, and to help us create a livable and vibrant community. My previous experience in working to create an efficient responsive organization, serving over 500,000 members will be helpful in achieving this goal.

Ian Jessop

I am running for Saanich council because I believe that a council working together can make Saanich a community that is the envy of all other municipalities in B.C.

My priorities are:

1. Openness and Transparency – Too many issues are discussed in secret meetings that could be open to the public according to the Community Charter. In the last 22 months, Saanich has had 65 in-camera meetings.

2. Vision – Saanich needs a vision that includes efficiency, cost-effectiveness and economic development. Why not strive to be the best run municipality in B.C.?

3. Traffic – The establishment of a citizen-based traffic committee to address long-standing concerns over neighbourhood traffic issues.

Vernon Lord

1. Homelessness/Tent Cities

We do a disservice to both those in need and taxpayers of Saanich with our current policy. Which is no policy. The entire region must come to grips with the reality of today and we must work with all districts and all levels of government to find a long term sustainable solution. I want to champion this for Saanich.

2. Preserving current greenspace/parks eg purchasing Kings Park

If we lose Kings Park to development we will lose an opportunity that rarely comes around, to purchase a five acre parcel of land in an established residential neighbourhood.

3. Transit Commission

Modern, efficient mass transit is needed for the Capital Region. I support the creation of a Transit Commission, a commission that looks at the entire region and plans accordingly.

No single improvement has a greater impact on the lives of all residents than an efficient mass transportation system. I would continue to support and push for a Transit Commission.

Rebecca Mersereau

1. Improve road and sidewalk safety so residents feel more comfortable walking and using mobility devices in their own neighbourhoods.

2. Create more appropriate and affordable housing options for young families, professionals, and seniors looking to downsize, in areas that are close to public transit and the services they need.

3. Bring the CRD and the province together to find solutions to our growing region-wide transportation challenges.

I’d like to be a voice for the many groups of residents whose needs have been neglected. This list includes renters, young families and professionals, and people on fixed incomes. I plan to speak up for their needs (like housing, transportation options, and strong financial management), to ensure we can all have a future in Saanich. I also want to help create a more welcoming and collaborative environment at municipal hall and around the council table, so we can address community needs more efficiently and effectively.

Cory Montgomery

1. Cutting the red tape for small business in Saanich

2. Road safety and transportation

3. Housing affordability and smart densification

Small business brings in diversity to our economy and allows families to build a future for their families and their employees, we need to cut the red tape and encourage local business

Saanich needs to address road safety, speed limits and find proper traffic calming methods that work

We need to keep Saanich affordable for homeowners, businesses and offer incentives for affordable housing options, Saanich is very diverse and council needs to be more accountable to all residents and ensure we are being fiscally responsible and keeping taxes low.

Shawn Newby

1. Healthy environment

2. Affordability

3. Municipal efficiency

I will make our municipality a better place by bringing a genuine, balanced voice to address the concerns of those residents who may not have a voice – the young families who cannot afford to purchase their own homes in Saanich; pensioners on fixed incomes who cannot keep up with the increased cost of living; businesses who seek cost and time efficiencies to create sustainable growth; and residents who seek to protect our natural environment while providing the amenities needed to build a community that can be enjoyed by all.

At this mid-point in my life, I feel I can understand and represent the youth, families, working and retired residents of Saanich. I am genuinely committed to collaborating with the new Council and Saanich staff in creating a healthier culture and community.

I hope to have your support so we can work together to strengthen our community.

Teale Phelps Bondaroff

I have been a community organizer for over 15 years and am currently a board member for the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network, where I help people set up little free libraries.

Community building is central to my vision. I want to employ a staff person dedicated to community building, tasked with connecting people and removing barriers to allow beautiful projects to flourish. I also want increase road safety while championing active transportation.

I have a PhD in politics and international studies, and am experienced in developing, implementing, and evaluating innovative policy solutions, and in working with diverse stakeholders to build common ground

1. Building Vibrant Villages: Promoting walkable, intergenerational village centres, where affordable housing is mixed with shops, services, and workplaces.

2. Keeping Our Street Safe: Through smart design, reducing speed limits on secondary roads, while enhancing, expanding, and connecting cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

3. Promoting Good Governance: A council that works together to make sound decisions using the best available information and meaningful public consultation.

Colin Plant

1. Housing affordability

2. Growing our commercial tax base to lessen the load on residential taxpayers

3. Biodiversity Strategy to replace the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA)

By listening to residents and working with all members of council to implement the Saanich vision of a sustainable community.

Saanich is an amazing municipality with wonderful parks, services and neighbourhoods. But we can improve to ensure future residents will have the same high quality of life we now experience. And it starts with housing.

As a council we must work within our community and with other levels of government to find ways to address housing affordability. Saanich can do its part with thoughtful land use decisions but we also must convince our partners to invest more in housing.

We must also grow our commercial tax base in Saanich to lessen the burden on residential taxpayers. Currently, 73 per cent of Saanich’s property taxes come from residents. In Victoria, it is 50 per cent. While we are not Victoria, we must be innovative in finding ways to fund our valued services.

Art Pollard

1. Improve governance structures in Saanich-including performance audits on the CEO and staff on a regular basis. Create better linkages between the Community Associations and council.

2. Provide opportunites for affordable housing-creation of a land bank for said purpose.

3. Create opportunities for small and large businesses by review of tax gap and mill rates.

There is a defined need for councillors to work more cohesively with the mayor in Saanich. These means independent thinking that can address the concerns of Saanich citizens and not an agenda driven perspective. I see better collaboration and listening is the key to move forward on the important issues such governance structures, affordable housing and a business friendly municipality. People of all walks of life deserve better listening leadership that cares.

Rishi Sharma

1. Increasing responsible economic development to help Saanich afford the continued increases in costs and debt repayment, instead of constant tax increases.

2. More investments into arts and recreation creating a more livable city for all residents (youth and seniors).

3. Creating safer roads in all Saanich residential areas.

I would recommend creating a economic development plan working with local businesses, public-post secondary institutions, Indigenous communities, industry associations and neighboring Chambers of Commerce to help with increasing revenue for the municipality and halting the rise of taxes and fees on taxpayers.

We need a better Saanich that is more affordable while environmentally friendly, with residents of all ages enjoying new and improved housing, arts and recreation services and infrastructure that is safe and refreshed.

It’s time to focus on economic development in Saanich to generate more revenue for services and supports for local residents without having to continue to raise taxes and fees. Now is the time to implement a culture of economic success and responsible growth so residents in Saanich can enjoy affordable living, improved amenities and programs while keeping more of their hard-earned money in their pockets.

Ned Taylor

1. Address affordability in housing and tax rates

2. Improve public transit and active transportation options

3. Protect our parks and natural environment

I love Saanich, the community I’ve grown up in. I want to protect our beautiful neighbourhoods and natural environment for both my lifetime and future generations. If elected, I’ll also focus on bringing council together to create affordable housing, improve transportation options, and respect your tax dollars. I’ll take a visionary approach that works now and for the long-term future. I’m offering an entirely new perspective, and I’m ready to be on Saanich council. My work with community associations, advisory committees and on park projects has helped me grasp an understanding of the issues. On Oct. 20 I’m asking for your vote so I can start addressing the issues facing our community.

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