What Ned Taylor lacks in years, he makes up in confidence as he makes another run for Saanich council.
The 18-year-old Saanich resident has officially announced that he is running in this year’s municipal election less than nine month after finishing fifth in the byelection that elected Coun. Karen Harper, just ahead of Rebecca Mersereau, whom many expect to run again as well.
“One thing that the byelection showed me is that I have a serious shot at being on council, and I’m going to take this very seriously this time around,” said Taylor, noting he finished ahead of candidates with higher name recognition and greater resources. “And I’m prepared to be on council.”
If so, he would become a youthful voice on a forum now dominated by voices many decades his senior. But for Taylor, this difference does not discourage him. If anything, it has inspired Taylor, who argues Saanich lacks a voice to speak for future generations. “I want to be that positive voice,” he said.
Concerning housing, Taylor wants to see Saanich push for additional student housing. This, he said, would ease the pressure on the market for rentals, and defuse familiar conflicts between students and more established residents over issues such as parking.
He would like to see Saanich increase density in areas like Uptown and Shelbourne Valley, while preserving traditional rural areas like the Blenkinsop Valley. Saanich should also push ahead with plans to legalize garden suites and other measures.
Concerning transportation, he said Saanich should work with other municipalities to pressure the provincial government for additional public transit funding to improve the current system. Active forms of transportation should also receive more attention. “Saanich has done a decent job [building bike lanes and encouraging walking], but it can do better,” he said, pointing to Sinclair Road as an example of where improvement is needed. “It’s extremely dangerous,” he said.
Taylor said Saanich needs a regime to protect its sensitive ecosystems, following the demise of the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw. If elected, Taylor promises to bring back “some aspects” of the EDPA, but only after extensive consultation with the public.
“The implementation of the EDPA was highly flawed,” he said in expressing sympathy for the concerns of property owners who had considered the EDPA excessive and non-transparent. “But we need some environmental protection.”