The public heard Coun. Sara Duncan criticize North Saanich over the issue of washroom during the last council meeting. (Black Press Media File)

The public heard Coun. Sara Duncan criticize North Saanich over the issue of washroom during the last council meeting. (Black Press Media File)

Sidney councillor criticizes North Saanich on washrooms

Coun. Sara Duncan calls on North Saanich to pitch in more

A Sidney councillor expressed disappointment with North Saanich’s use of public funds, drawing push-back from North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr.

Coun. Sara Duncan voiced the concern as Sidney approved additional funding for the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce to help maintain public washrooms under its care.

“The only thing that I am a little bit miffed about, even though it is a very small amount of money, is knowing how much Sidney put forward to keep bathrooms open, to keep washrooms open throughout the pandemic,” she said. “North Saanich, I feel did not contribute equally and when they got their COVID-19 re-start money, they said they had so much with so little infrastructure to have to maintain, that they were giving it away to charity. So I feel, may be North Saanich could have pitched in a little bit more for washrooms here.”

Orr said North Saanich did not receive a formal request from Sidney to make contributions for their efforts in maintaining bathrooms prior to COVID-19 restart funding.

Duncan acknowledged that Sidney did not make a formal request, but added that she did have informal discussions about the possibility of opening up washrooms outside the municipality.

This issue has also drawn to attention to the different approaches that the two neighbouring communities appear to be taking when it comes to using their respective COVID-19 relief money of some $2.75 million for Sidney and some $2.71 million for North Saanich.

RELATED: Staff suggest Sidney be cautious spending $2.75 million from province

Sidney council late last year agreed to use $650,000 of its grant to make up lost revenues and costs incurred in 2020, while tentatively setting aside $550,000 to maintain 2020 tax reductions for 2021 with a final decision to be made at 2021 budget deliberations. Council will consider how to use the rest of the grant during 2021 budget considerations.

North Saanich council received a report in late 2020 that found that the pandemic did not “significantly” impact service levels and revenue streams compared to many municipalities in the region that operate recreation centres and have increased costs related to supporting vulnerable populations.

RELATED: North Saanich considers supporting charities with COVID-19 grant

According to the report, pandemic-related expenses eligible for grant funding totalled $100,878 with an updated figure to be made available during 2021 budget discussion. North Saanich subsequently donated $50,000 to the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank and set up a granting process that would allow charities serving vulnerable populations to access some of that money.

“While that is fine and laudable, definitely, this (washroom issue) was an example where that money could have been used for something that is what it was intended for, as a municipal service,” said Duncan.

Katie Kroeker, president of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, said North Saanich “after several requests” provided funding to meet the COVID-19 standard of twice daily cleaning at a cost of $1,200 per month after the washrooms had closed for two months. That funding expired at the end of 2020 and the organization has since asked all three municipalities for additional support.

Orr said earlier that North Saanich could take up that request as early as Monday’s council meeting. “I don’t think North Saanich will have any hesitation in terms of council’s point of view supporting ongoing contributions to the facility in 2021,” he said. “So I don’t see this being any issue whatsoever.”

He also defended North Saanich’s approach around the relief grant. “To suggest that all of that funding, because we have a different infrastructure situation, is all going to charity is not a correct assumption,” he said. “We haven’t even decided yet the amount out of that. And it’s not necessarily going to charity. It’s going to vulnerable populations that are supported by non-profit societies.”

sig code

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Saanich Peninsula

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shannon Davis, manager at Sidney’s Star Cinema, holds up the largest available bag of popcorn available for sale at the theatre. It also also sells four smaller sizes in generating revenue following its closure last fall because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney theatre fills bottom line with popcorn sales

Theatre applying to return to doing our household-only private rentals

Landis Carmichael is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the Emergency Services Award winner. (Photo courtesy Landis Carmichael)
29-year-old firefighter has spent almost half his life with Langford department

Landis Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Emergency Services Award

Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

The construction zone remains for now at Clover Point, but plans for a new pedestrian zone and partially closed traffic loop were approved by Victoria councillors on Thursday. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria council compromises with partial closure of Clover Point

Option preserves parking 14 spots facing ocean, creates more pedestrian space

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Most Read