Policies and procedures that promote a greener, more sustainable Saanich are meaningless if the municipality isn’t walking the talk.
Mayoral candidate David Cubberley says Saanich needs to be led by someone who has an understanding of what it means to live green – and that’s not the case right now.
“I find that Saanich, on paper, has a strong commitment to farms and farming and food security, and on the ground it’s mixed,” he said. “My record shows I’m innovative and creative in building alternatives to single-occupant vehicle use. I am an avid cycler, and I have a strong commitment to make progress on improving mobility and walkability. I am an inveterate recycler; the blue box program, getting electronic waste out of landfills – all that interests me.”
He says Saanich, under the direction of Mayor Frank Leonard, has missed several opportunities to capitalize on being a greener community – one that promotes local farming, diverting waste from the landfills and getting people out of their cars.
Leonard, however, points to the recent municipal acquisitions of Panama Flats and Haro Woods as indicators that the community is getting more than it could have expected from its mayor and council when it comes to the sustainability file.
“We’ve taken the mandate from citizens and created sustainable documents that we work from. These are community goals, set out in the strategic plan,” he said, adding that his opponent is imposing more of a personal agenda, rather than working on the pre-established goals.
“We faced challenges with both of those (acquisitions), but (council) gave clear direction to staff based on our goals. We’ve shown that we can deliver outcomes that this community can be proud of,” Leonard said. “I take these as council achievements, but I’m proud to be the mayor that leads this council.”
Council candidates Nichola Wade, Vicki Sanders, Dean Murdock, Paul Gerrard, Judy Brownoff and Susan Brice say Saanich has demonstrated its commitment to the environment. They each point to their personal background on sustainability, and say Saanich needs to do more of what it’s already doing.
” I’m a firm believer that we, as individuals, need to be responsible for ourselves and not expect somebody else to pick up after us,” Sanders said.
“(Saanich’s climate action mitigation strategy and an adaptation strategy) will take us quite a ways with what we need to accomplish, which include smart growth planning and reduction of our own emissions and community emissions,” added Wade.
Harald Wolf, a geologist, says Saanich’s discussions on the environment are too superficial.
“My understanding of the concepts are much deeper than the vocabulary, and the idea that we can meet our carbon reduction targets by fudging numbers in spreadsheets and paying carbon offsets,” he said.
Leif Wergeland says his priority for the next term would be encouraging residents to change their habits. “We really do have a part to play in the whole climate issue. In reality each one of us has to change, in every area of our life.”
Candidate Ingrid Ip is championing curb-side compost pick-up as the best sustainability goal for Saanich to set.
Rob Wickson and Vic Derman say a different approach needs to be taken to tackling the environmental issues facing Saanich.
“You have to embed (environmental policies) in the decision-making process so they consistently guide the direction of the community,” Derman said. “We’re trying to be greener … but we haven’t got that long-term vision of what sustainable should be and look like.”
Get more from your candidates
We asked all the candidates what their priorities are when it comes to a greener Saanich . Check out their full comments here.