Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says despite twists and turns, the district achieved remarkable things this year. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says despite twists and turns, the district achieved remarkable things this year. (Black Press Media file photo)

COLUMN: Saanich mayor lauds district’s many awards in 2021

Mayor Fred Haynes says despite twists and turns, Saanich achieved remarkable things this year

By Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes

Over the next few weeks, let’s take a breath and restore ourselves for 2022.

Taking stock of the year is a tradition at the District of Saanich. Despite some twists and turns, we achieved remarkable things in 2021. Let’s pause to celebrate some of these.

Most noteworthy was signing our memorandum of understanding with the WSANEC Leadership Council. In December, Saanich was honoured to formalize our commitment to reconciliation and pursue opportunities for collaboration with WSANEC Leadership Council.

Another was the fulfillment of our commitment to protect the Kings Road green space near Royal Jubilee Hospital.

We were also grateful to receive several awards and recognitions, including:

– Canadian Institute of Planners 2021 Award for Planning Excellence for our Climate Plan;

– Being shortlisted for the 2021 UBCM Community Excellence Awards, Excellence in Sustainability;

– An A score – the highest rating for climate action – for our 2021 response to the CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System;

– The Safety Improvement Award from the BC Municipal Safety Association;

– An honourable mention in the Program Excellence Award for our HeArts Together Community Art Project;

– The Campaign of the Year award for our 2020 Natural Intelligence campaign;

– The Organizational Safety Excellence Award from the BC Municipal Safety Association, and;

– Awards for budgeting and financial reporting.

For every formally recognized achievement, dozens of others moved us towards our goals.

In 2021, we saw significant progress on climate action and released our first Climate Plan report card. We received $1.2 million from the province for ecosystem restoration, further electrified our municipal fleets, launched an e-bike pilot program and introduced a new EV Ready rebate.

Climate change, housing and active transportation continued as inter-connected priorities. Council endorsed the 15 development process review recommendations to expand our housing options. We launched a robust Housing Strategy and engaged residents across several neighbourhoods to retain what’s valued while working to respond to climate change, grow housing diversity and improve active transportation routes.

We doubled down on road safety. This included building new infrastructure supports for vulnerable road users. We built new bike lanes, implemented leading pedestrian intervals, enhanced pedestrian networks and made progress on safe routes to schools. Meanwhile, we recognize more work is needed to improve road safety for all. We are fully committed to this work.

We also funded an economic development officer position and re-committed support for the South Island Prosperity Partnership. Other highlights included continuing the new approach for expanded patios for cafes and restaurants; testing a food truck program; testing pop-up dog parks; opening a new bridge and trail in Mount Douglas Park; implementing the Bring Your Own Bag bylaw; expanding the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary; conducting a citizen survey; and supporting communities impacted by the wildfires. In addition, Saanich was proud to support the Capital Regional District’s acquisition of the nearly 50-acre Mountain Road Forest.

Thank you to all those in our community who dedicate themselves to keeping Saanich the very best place to live, work and play. Happy holidays and let’s look forward to more successes in 2022.

– Fred Haynes is the mayor of Saanich

2021 Year in ReviewSaanich