Birthday: Nov. 2, 1952
Personal background: I was born in Germany, and raised, educated and married in English Montreal. My wife, Daphne, and I had our two children In Ottawa before moving to the Island to put down permanent roots in 1994. Our now-adult children are still living at home.
Professional background: I’ve had a diverse work-life, and always welcomed and sought out new challenges. I’ve had careers in the construction, mineral exploration and IT sectors. While working as a government geologist in Ontario, I discovered the potential of computers, then set out as a consultant, providing database services to Ontario Housing, DND and the CRD. Missing the satisfaction of physically creating things, I most recently returned to construction, doing small-scale green renovations.
Political/community experience: My first foray into the political scene was as part of the team that created an Industrial Policy for the National Party of Canada. I’ve served on the board of my neighbourhood association since moving here 16 years ago, have been a member of the Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee and the Saanich Community Association, as well as a CRD Master Composter and Waste Reduction Speaker’s Bureau teams. I also helped launch the Victoria Region Transition Initiative. In 2005 I ran for mayor of Saanich, also advocating for a vision of a sustainable future.
What will be the most pressing issue for Saanich council to deal with in the 2011-2014 term?
We need to start walking the talk! Over the years, I’ve seen Council and staff learning the vocabulary of sustainability, and producing good documents. Yet, little is changing in the streets. We need to clearly define what this community can and should look like a generation from now, and set about making the necessary changes. A good start would be to raise the public awareness of living in Saanich, the largest city on Vancouver Island, rather than being content to “serve as a bedroom community to Victoria”, which is how Saanich described itself on its own website until recently).
We must change our economy to be more resilient to outside influences, which would provide meaningful work locally, within easy reach by foot, bike or transit.
What has been the biggest failure of the current council?
Despite all the rhetoric, this Council continued to be driven by the development community, and stuck with fending off NIMBY concerns by the existing community. Without a clear vision, this is exactly what would be expected!
How do you attract unengaged voters to participate and be interested in municipal politics?
The biggest problem in Saanich is that too many of its citizens do not identify with living in Saanich. Most of our kids attend the Greater Victoria School District, and many go on to attend the University of Victoria. They go to Victoria to party, and often to shop and work. Basically, Saanich is both un-cool, and easy to ignore. Most residents and establishments identify themselves as being located in Victoria (even Saanich Municipal Hall!), because there is no positive aspect to doing otherwise. This must change! A sense of place and belonging is fundamental to a sustainable existence.