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Councillor discloses confidential land deal at all-candidates meeting

One highlight out of a relatively uneventful all-candidate meeting Wednesday, was a slip of tongue about a land deal yet to be made public.

The one highlight out of a relatively uneventful all-candidate meeting Wednesday night, was when incumbent Paul Gerrard shared confidential information about a land deal that had yet to be wrapped up.

Asked about minimizing traffic in Cordova Bay, Gerrard let slip that Saanich was looking to purchase land at the corner of Hunt and Fowler roads to try to improve traffic flow in the area.

At the time, the deal had only been discussed in-camera, meaning the details were not yet supposed to go public.

"It was an error on my part, and I apologize. It was the first time I've ever done that, and it will certainly be the last," Gerrard told the •News• Friday. "I thought that (the land deal) had been ratified, but it hadn't. I knew it was imminent."

That deal was imminent – it was finalized Friday, about 40 hours after Gerrard's accidental slip-up.

Tim Wood, Saanich's municipal administrator, said Gerrard’s slip could have complicated the acquisition if the deal wasn’t so close to completion.

"Although an inadvertent public reference about the land transaction, prior to the report out of the matter, was technically premature, it had absolutely no effect on the outcome," he said.

The meeting was the first forum that Saanich's mayoral candidates appeared together. However, the crowd at Claremont's Ridge Theatre never did have a chance to see David Cubberley and Frank Leonard spar over the issues.

The rules of the forum – no debating, no directing questions at particular individuals, not having mayoral candidates Frank Leonard and David Cubberley answer the same questions – hindered what many who attended wanted from the meeting.

Hot topics included the provincially mandated sewage treatment facility for Greater Victoria, transportation issues and a beach fire ban in Cordova Bay.

Cubberley and Leonard were both asked about funding for sewage and light-rail.

"We need to put it to you," Leonard said regarding using taxpayer dollars to  install a billion-dollar light-rail transit system on Douglas Street and the Trans-Canada Highway. "It's a lot of money, it's your money, you need to be involved in that commitment."

Cubberley said better lobbying needs to be done to upper levels of government to get them to commit to pay one-third of the cost of light-rail.

Mayoral candidate David Shebib and council candidate Jesse McClinton did not attend the meeting.


Upcoming all-candidates meetings

There are seven all-candidates meetings remaining before the Nov. 19 election.

• Thursday Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m., Room 216 in the Young Building Camosun College's Lansdowne campus

• Tuesday Nov. 8 at 7 p.m., Lochside elementary (1145 Royal Oak Dr.)

• Wednesday Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m., Prospect Lake Community Hall (5358 Sparton Rd.)

• Tuesday Nov. 15 at 2 p.m., Church of the Nazarene (4277 Quadra St.)

• Tuesday Nov. 15 at 7 p.m., Spectrum Community School (957 Burnside Rd. W)

• Wednesday Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m., Cadboro Bay United Church (2625 Arbutus Rd.)

• Thursday Nov. 17 at 7 p.m., Gordon Head United Church (4201 Tyndall Ave.)